Gain insight on college admissions, student life and applying for scholarships through the experiences of your peers. Fastweb’s Student Contributor series features articles written by students on student-related experiences and issues.
Francesca Kavalir

Francesca Kavalir, High School Junior

Francesca Kavalir is a junior at Mt. Lebanon High School near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her long-standing passions for reading and writing are used in her editorial positions on her school's newspaper and literary magazine, in addition to her membership on a public library advisory board. She specializes in both journalistic and analytic writing.

Though most of her time is spent studying, a desperate attempt to satiate her endless curiosity for everything from chemistry to classic literature, she participates in a wide range of extracurricular activities too. Regarding school-facilitated groups, she runs on the cross-country, track teams, and is a member of Student Council, Student Advisory Council, Principal's Advisory Council, Spanish Club, and Human Rights Club.

As a Senior Girl Scout, she recently completed her Gold Award with a Pi Day celebration for local middle school students. In the summer, she is a camp counselor for children, aged 6 to 10, and in any other free time, she enjoys playing guitar and reading the Harry Potter saga.


Preparing for the Practice Exam: PSAT Tips
Where to Begin Your Scholarship Search
Following Exam Instructions: A Cautionary Tale
Student Volunteering 101
Navigating College Fairs
Strategies for Your College Search
High School Course Selection Tips
Your Final Exam Prep Guide

Christina Alfaro

Christina Alfaro, High School Junior

Christina Alfaro is a junior at North Hollywood High School in California. Her passions include reading, writing, and caring for animals. More specifically, her strong passion for writing has brought her aspirations to become a journalist and eventually write her own novel.

Along with this she joined the school's girls' soccer team her freshman year and made the varsity team by her sophomore year, as well as playing varsity softball and taking advanced placement classes keeping herself busy throughout the school year. Christina also began writing for her school's newspaper at the start of her sophomore year.

Recently she began volunteering for a local animal shelter in order to bring help and hope to animals without a home.

During her free time she loves reading, listening to music, writing, and spending time with her pets, family and friends.


College Fairs: Do's and Don'ts
Tips from a Scholarship Winner
Productive Holiday Break Ideas
Activities on College Applications Are a Must
Requesting Recommendation Letters
Developing Your College List
Keeping Track of the College Admissions Process

Bailey VanNatta

Bailey VanNatta, High School Senior

Bailey, a senior at Mineral Wells High School, is a UIL award-winning journalist. She most likely will attend Texas Tech University, majoring in either English or Journalism.

Bailey is involved in many extracurricular activities including, but not limited to, being the Yearbook Editor in Chief, Vice President of the MWHS chapter of NHS and her senior class treasurer.

Bailey is active within her church community and a diehard sports fan. Her favorite teams include the New York Giants, the Texas Rangers, Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars.

When she's not at school or working retail, writing and photography are her main passions.


Getting a Part-time Job as a Student
Maintaining Balance: School, Scholarships & Your College Search
Narrowing Down Your List of College Choices
Considering Different Aspects of College Choices
School & Your Part-Time Job
Spring Break Ideas for High School Seniors
How to Afford a Private University
How College Visits Can Help College Decisions
What I Wish I Had Been Told About the College Admissions Process

Brady Keane

Brady Keane, High School Senior

Brady is a senior at Bandera High School in Texas, and hopes to major in Journalism at the University of North Texas or George Mason University.

As the editor of the school newspaper, and the head producer and anchor of the school TV Station, Brady is involved in several extra-curricular activities.

At high school, he is also a member of the varsity football, basketball, soccer, and tennis teams, is a state qualifier in Business Professionals of America, regional qualifier in UIL Journalism, a State Champion in ILPC Sports Feature writing and a member of both the National Honor Society and Student Council.

Brady also wrote articles for LoneStar Sports Update, is a contributor for SportsRants and has been the sports writer for the Bandera County Courier since 2011.

In his spare time, Brady enjoys watching or covering sporting events, playing sports, hanging with friends and playing video games.


Balancing Academics, Extracurriculars & Your College Search
How to Get Recruited for College Sports
Considering AP or Dual Credit Courses: Pros and Cons
Staying on Top of Your Scholarship Search
Involving Your Parents in Your College Search
5 Ways You Can Avoid Senioritis
Keep Calm & Wait for College Admissions Decisions
Tips to Prepare for National Decision Day

Kaitlyn Specht

Kaitlyn Specht, High School Senior

Kaitlyn is a senior at Edgewood High School in Ohio. One of the top students in a class of about three hundred, Kaitlyn keeps hard at work with her studies. However, her studies do not occupy all of her time.

Outside of class, her love of reading and writing transforms into a hobby and, on a larger scale, a dream. She aspires to become a novelist and plans to major in English.

During the week, Kaitlyn can be seen at a number of places: youth group gatherings, National Honor Society meetings, tutoring at the elementary school - Kaitlyn involves herself in her community.

While Kaitlyn is nervous about the admissions process ahead of her, she feels grateful for the opportunity to share her experiences and knowledge that she gains with other students.


Should You Apply Early Admission?
Standardized Test Prep Tips
The Importance of Extracurriculars
High School Finals Study Tips
Examining Your College Options
Steps to Acceptance: Getting Off the Deferral List
Your Spring Scholarship Search
Preparing for Admissions Interviews
Signing Up for Senior Year Classes
Spending Your Graduation Money Wisely

McKenzie Nevins

McKenzie Nevins, College Freshman

Kenzi Nevins is small-town Kentucky native who will be starting as a freshman at Taylor University in the fall. She plans to major in professional writing and minor in theatre performance with a dream of becoming a novelist. For her first semester she'll be studying abroad with Taylor in Ireland, a lifelong dream as she is third-generation Irish.

Kenzi works at a tea parlor and has accidentally become something of a tea connoisseur. If you want to know anything about it...just ask! When she isn't acting, singing, drinking tea or going without shoes (seriously), she writes pretty much all the time. To date she's finished five novel manuscripts, and is currently working on the publishing process. She's super excited about starting a blog while in Ireland (she's always wanted a blog!), and knows that she'll always want travel to be a big part of her life.


Life Lessons for When the Unexpected Happens
Finals: Make a Study Plan Now & Avoid Cramming Later
Ideas for Your Best Winter Break Yet
Second Semester Motivational Tips
Spring Break Safety Tips
Help! I Can't Stand My Professor
Prepping for College Over the Summer
Should Friends Become Roommates?

Maya Moritz

Maya Moritz, High School Senior

Maya Moritz is a senior at Westfield High School in Westfield, NJ. She hopes to major in International Relations with a minor in Spanish.

This past summer, she worked as an intern with a Capitol Hill think tank.

During the year, she participates in Model UN, Science Olympiad, Write on for Israel and runs the tutoring program she co-founded, Connections through Education.

Maya is politically active and enjoys yoga, travel, hiking, cinema and fiction.


A Student's Perspective on Test Prep
The Stages of College Essay Writing
Approaching Extracurriculars
College Choice Considerations
College Visit Breakdown
All About Essays
College Admissions: As Easy as 1, 2, 3
College Fairs: A to Z
What to Expect: College Admissions in Fall/Winter
How to Get a High School Internship
Obtaining Recommendation Letters
Creating a College Essay Outline
How to Impress Potential Colleges
Staying Focused Through Spring Semester
3 Resources for Your Scholarship Search
Summer Plan Suggestions for Students

Jamie Vincent

Jamie Vincent, College Freshman

Jamie Vincent is a freshman at Oberlin College, where she plans to major in creative writing. She someday hopes to write full time.

Jamie loves writing moderately nerdy futuristic fiction and reading anything that's good! Her favorite authors include David Mitchell, J.K. Rowling, Jane Austen and Chris Paolini.

Jamie's favorite things include: the Dave Matthews Band, the film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice (the 2005 version!), hedgehogs, her new vintage bike, succulents, terrariums, and, of course, her new college.

She is excited to share with fellow students in the thrills and struggles of being a first-time college student.


Reprioritizing College Applications
Atlas Shrugged, and Then Offered a Scholarship
Conquering It All
The Reality of Senioritis
3 Tips for Your Scholarship Search
Small Details Help Make Big College Decisions
Waiting on Admissions Decisions
The Feelings Behind Admissions Decisions
Dealing with the Emotions of Leaving for College
Finding Your Own Student Life
Staying Healthy on Campus
Communicating with Your Roommate
Student Gifts: It's the Thought that Counts
Four Simple Study Tips to Ace Your Finals
5 Tips to Help You Find the Right College Club
The 7 Rules of Being a Good Roommate

Alison Graham

Alison Graham, College Sophomore

Alison Graham is a sophomore at Indiana University majoring in Journalism.

Originally from Indianapolis, IN, Alison loves exploring and living in Bloomington, her newfound college home.

This is her third year contributing to Fastweb, and she loves every second of it.

She also enjoys reading, binge-watching Netflix and shopping in antique and thrift stores.


My First Week of College
Navigating through College Life
Your Major? Your Passion
Going Home for the Holidays
Calming College Nerves
Decisions on Greek Life
Enhance Your Scholarship Winning Skills
What Does a College Freshman's Day Look Like?
Roommate Options for College Freshman
Freshman Year Reflections
Creating a Perfect Class Schedule
3 Ways to Resolve Your Roommate Crisis
Halloween Campus Safety Tips
Why I Love Going to a Big Ten School
Why You Should Take On a College Minor
A Procrastinator's Guide to Essay Writing
Tips to Prepare for Study Abroad

Sabrina McPherson

Sabrina McPherson, College Sophomore

I am a fellow knight at Arcadia University and am ready to throw myself into the world of journalism. I wish to continue my years at Arcadia U and make a difference on campus and around the world as a Print Communication major. After I graduate college, I hope to write for an upstanding news source or magazine or create my own. My main goal, most importantly, is to have my writing to be a positive influence to people.

While writing is my passion, I do enjoy other things like reading and music. Reading is what sparked my interest in writing and music is my muse. My extracurricular activities vary but the most important thing is that whatever I am doing, whenever I am doing it, and with whoever, I am enjoying life to the fullest. My life’s motto is "History never repeats, so make your own!"


Study Abroad Checklist: Be Prepared
Finding the Right College Job
Making Major Decisions
2015 New Year's Resolutions for College Students
College vs. The "Real" World
Unlocking Reasons You Need Internships & Keys to Finding Yours

Laura Magerkurth

Laura Magerkurth, College Junior

Laura is a junior at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, where she is studying communication disorders and minoring in Spanish and English. This is her fourth year as a student contributor for FastWeb. She isn't sure what she would like to do after graduating, but she hopes she can put her passion for writing to use in whatever path she chooses.

When Laura isn't in class, she can be found enjoying the sights around Kirksville, writing her monthly column for Fastweb, or reading for class or for fun.


Catching some zzz's
As the Years Go By…A College Perspective
Examining the College Journey
Social Tips for the Introvert
College Milestones
Keeping Busy Over Break
The Scoop on Study Abroad
Finding Your Perfect Roommate Situation
Student Life Beyond Campus
What I Wish I'd Known Before College
Textbook Tips: Buying & Saving
Welcome Week Warnings
Roommate Relationship Maintenance Tips
Choosing Your Ideal College Size
Scheduling for Success
Getting the Most Out of Federal Aid
Avoiding a Finals Week Freak-Out
Your Guide to Taking On a Summer Semester

Samantha Starkey

Samantha Starkey, 3rd Year with Senior Status

Samantha Starkey is in her final year at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, majoring in Writing, Literature, and Publishing to receive a Bachelor of Fines Art when she graduates.

She can't remember when she first decided that she wanted to be a writer, as it's a hobby-turned-career-aspiration that she's indulged in for as long as she can remember. She would like to one day be a published author of novels and short stories. She was born and raised in Connecticut.

When not writing, Samantha is usually reading, working, or overloading on coursework so that she can graduate early. She is a proofreader, a typist, a marketing intern, and an office assistant. She hopes to one day pursue an MFA in creative writing.


Advice from a Scholarship Winner (and Loser)
Dealing with a Bad Professor
Surviving Group Assignments
Writing Your First Resume
What to Do If You Can't Go Home for the Holidays
College Career Center Services & Resources
8 College Must-Dos
5 Budget Spring Break Ideas
How to Write a Cover Letter