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Tastes Like Team Spirit: 5 Great Reasons to Watch the Longhorns this Season


By Traci Andrighetti

Tastes Like Team Spirit: 5 Great Reasons to Watch the Longhorns this Season

Last week in Dallas, the Big 12 Media Days signaled the unofficial start of the college football season. I can’t believe I’m saying this after what I’ll only refer to as “the 5-7 debacle,” but I’m in the mood to talk Longhorn football. Don’t get me wrong; the scars of the losing season haven’t healed. It’s just that I’m more than a little anxious to put last year behind us.

Thankfully, we Longhorn football fans have a lot to look forward to this season. Here’s my list of the top 5 things to watch:

1. The rise of Major Applewhite

In one of many promising changes to the Longhorn coaching staff, Major Applewhite was promoted to co-offensive coordinator. I have more than a little faith in Applewhite, and apparently Mack Brown does too. Who better than an awesome ex-Longhorn quarterback to help get this offense back on target?

2. An open quarterback competition between Gilbert and McCoy

As we all know, Garrett Gilbert struggled last season (not that it was all his fault), and now the younger McCoy has finally come of age. If Case McCoy is anything like his amazing brother Colt, we could witness a good old-fashioned Texas shootout.

3. A star running back

The eyes of Texas are on incoming freshman Malcolm Brown, the top high school running back in the nation in 2011, to be the next great Longhorn running back. Will he be able to fill the shoes of the legendary Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and Jamaal Charles? Stay tuned.

4. The Longhorn Network

Coinciding with the kickoff of the college football season, this joint ESPN/University of Texas cable channel will feature round-the-clock coverage of Longhorn sports starting on August 26th. That’s right, all Texas all the time. Need I say more?

5. A bowl game

Although no one is talking championship for the Longhorns (at least not yet), the experts predict that a Longhorn bowl game is in the cards. After last year, we’ll definitely take one.

While you’re cheering on the Longhorns this season, I hope you’ll remember that you’re part of a much larger team: the University of Texas team. Aspire to greatness for everyone at UT by helping us raise desperately needed scholarship money for current and future Longhorns. So please, make H2Orange your water of choice when you’re tailgating, watching the game and celebrating our many wins this season.

What’s Your College Major Worth? The Answer May Surprise You!


By Traci Andrighetti

While you’re lying by the pool this summer, you might want to think long and hard about changing your major. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce has just released the first-ever study on the economic value of 171 college majors, and the results are startling, to say the least.

The report, called What it’s Worth, indicates that college majors lead to very different careers and strikingly different salaries. For example, with a major in Counseling Psychology you can expect to earn $29,000 per year, but a Petroleum Engineering degree will net you a yearly salary of $120,000. That’s huge, people.

This study also shows how your salary will be affected by your gender and race. Not surprisingly, women still earn less than men, and Whites still out-earn other races. For instance, men are paid $10,000 more per year than women in Pharmaceutical Sciences and $18,000 more in the Social Sciences. In terms of race, the greatest disparity between the salaries of Whites, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians is in Mechanical Engineering, while the least disparity is in Nursing.

Another section of the report looks at the relationship between college majors and graduate school. For instance, 47% of Math majors go to grad school in their field, while only 25% of Liberal Arts degrees do so. But here’s the kicker: Liberal Arts majors reap a 42% earnings increase from a graduate degree, whereas Math majors get a 33% boost in salary from their advanced degree. Kind of makes you think.

The best part of this study is that it provides a breakdown of where degree holders work by occupation in specific industries. So, if you’re wondering what you can do with your major, then you definitely need to read What it’s Worth.

Of course, this report will raise a lot of questions about whether you should change your major to earn more money, work in a less discriminatory industry or a live in a specific part of the country. But honestly, the main question you should be asking yourself this: Based on the amount of money you need to borrow to finance your education, can you really afford to keep your current major?

If you decide that your major is too expensive relative to its earnings potential, remember that you do have options. Many of you can simply change your major. But if you can’t — either because you don’t want to or because you’re too close to graduation — then take action! Start applying for scholarships, knock out your basic courses at a community college, or get a part-time job if you don’t already have one.

In the meantime, please choose H2Orange over other bottled waters. By helping us fund academic scholarships to the University of Texas, you ensure that many, if not all, UT students who want to major in lower-paying fields such as counseling, social work and nursing can afford to stay in these desperately needed careers.

Study results can be found here

5 Great Apps to Help You Find and Get Scholarships!


By Traci Andrighetti

Summer is scholarship season. And whether you’re a junior in high school or a senior in college, it’s never too early or too late to look for free money. Now that school is out, it’s time to get serious about your search. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re sick of the library, the good news is that you don’t have to go there anymore to research financial aid opportunities. These days, you can use your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad to find scholarships, write your essays and submit your applications online. Below are five great apps that show you how to do just that.

    1) i-FinAid

    If you don’t know anything about Financial Aid, then this app is the place to start. For the low price of $1.99, it teaches you how to apply for federal aid, estimates how much aid you may qualify for and calculates what you’ll pay for college. I-FinAid also prepares you for frank discussions with financial aid counselors so that you can be sure you’re getting the most out of your aid package.

    2) How to Find, Apply for and Receive College Scholarships

    At the bargain rate of 99 cents, this app actually identifies the scholarships that are right for you. What’s more, it teaches you about the 13 common mistakes that students make when applying for aid, and helps you learn how to set yourself apart from the competition on your applications.

    3) studentawards.com

    This app helps you find scholarships, bursaries, grants and other types of financial assistance and sends you updates as new sources of aid become available. Most importantly, it defines your financial needs and helps you devise a strategy to meet them — and all for free!

    4) Scholarship Positions

    Although it’s fairly limited in terms of functionality, this app is ideal for anyone who wants to go to school abroad. For only 99 cents, Scholarship Positions keeps you up-to-date on the financial aid packages offered by the top universities of the world.

    5) AWC – College Scholarship Essay (Includes Live Writing Assistant)

    Once you’ve completed your scholarship search, check out the Achievers Writing Center (AWC) app. At $7.99, it costs more than the others, but it teaches you everything you need to know to develop, organize and write essays targeted to specific scholarship applications. Best of all, this app gives you unlimited e-mail access to a writing assistant who helps you write your essays. Now that’s a deal!

No doubt you’ll work up a thirst on your summer scholarship hunt, so make sure you drink your H2Orange. The money you spend on this fine product may just come back to you or someone you know in the form of a UT scholarship. Now wouldn’t that be ironic?

The Secret to Finding Money for College:

Treat the Scholarship Hunt Like a Job


By Traci Andrighetti

In the coming weeks, thousands of high school seniors across the state of Texas will receive their financial aid packages. However, these packages won’t include a penny of aid from state-funded programs. Why? Schools are preemptively cutting aid to entering freshmen for fear of the impending education budget cuts by the Texas Legislature.

For those of you who don’t know how financial aid works, when students fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), they are automatically considered for grants from their state and from their school. Two of the grants offered by the state of Texas afford considerable funding: The need-based TEXAS Grant provides $6,700 each year for up to four years of college, and the merit-based Top 10 Percent Scholarship provides $2,000 to entering freshmen. The absence of these grants two grants alone will negatively impact the ability of thousands of Texas students to go to college.

So what’s a prospective freshman to do? The answer is simple: Get serious about applying for scholarships and grants. I’ll tell you how.

When I was a high school student in Houston in the 1980’s, legendary news reporter Marvin Zindler would routinely feature students who had received anywhere from $50,000 to $163,000 in scholarship and grant money. Naturally, I assumed that they, unlike me, were model students with perfect GPAs, impressive internships, and countless extracurricular and charitable activities on their resumes. But I was wrong. Most of these kids were just average students with no special achievements under their belts. The real difference between them and me was that they treated going after free money like a job. They spent their summers and a portion of the school year applying for every scholarship and grant they could find — from private individuals, foundations and corporations.

I know what you’re thinking: That was then, this is now, and there is no money out there anymore. Wrong! Super scholarship-seekers are still featured on news programs around the country. Now, how do you become one of them? There are two little-known resources for precisely that purpose right here in Austin.

One such resource, believe it or not, is the University of Texas Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. Not only does the Hogg Foundation offer grants, but it also has a library with reference materials for researching scholarships. I utilized the library as a graduate student, and the staff was amazing: they helped me brainstorm about the types of scholarships I was eligible for, assisted me with my search, and even helped me to draft my scholarship letters and chart out a budget. You have to book an appointment to use the library, so click here for contact information.

Another over-looked resource is the Austin Chamber of Commerce, which provides free assistance at local high schools on Saturdays with filling out the FAFSA, the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA) and all other scholarship applications. At some locations, they even offer free tax preparation services since the tax return is a key part of the FAFSA. Click here for details.

One final piece of advice for entering freshmen: Please don’t give up on going to college. If you don’t have the funding right now, there is still some time find it, but you’re going to have to work hard to do so.

To everyone else out there, I say this: Buy, buy, buy H2Orange to build up the University of Texas Scholarship Fund. An entire generation of college students is depending on you.

Ten Terrific Tips to Graduate from College Debt-Free!


By Traci Andrighetti

Believe it or not, even in this era of outlandish college tuition costs, some students are still managing to graduate totally debt-free, and I’m not talking about the fortunate few who have college fully funded by their families or trust funds.

One of my ex-students, Chelsea Drescher, just graduated from the University of Texas completely free of debt. How did she do it? Like so many students today, Chelsea relied on a variety of resources to pay for school: the Texas Tomorrow Fund, scholarships, a student loan, part-time jobs and a small inheritance.

I recently asked Chelsea what it was like not having student loan debt to repay, and she replied, “Graduating from college debt-free is such a relief! This means that I can start saving some of the money I earn for retirement, emergencies, traveling and anything else I want to save for. It’s definitely less stressful not having student loans to worry about.”

So how can you graduate from college debt-free? Chelsea has ten terrific tips for you:

1)    apply to every scholarship you can in your department, your college and at your university,

2)    fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) because you might qualify for a grant or a
need-based scholarship,

3)    take basic courses at a community college since the tuition is much cheaper,

4)    try to pass all of your courses and avoid dropping them so that you don’t have to register for extra semesters,

5)    enroll in summer school (and in more than one course!) to graduate early,

6)    get a job on campus so that you can go to work directly from class instead of wasting valuable study time driving
off campus,

7)    become a tutor for the classes you have successfully completed to make extra money and keep you up-to-date for
your advanced courses that rely on the basics,

8)    avoid taking only the required amount of hours and dropping courses because a lot of schools will reward your
attendance with a $1000 tuition reimbursement after graduation,

9)    don’t be afraid to take out student loans if you have to—just be sure to keep them manageable with respect to the
future salary you expect to earn,

10)  sign up for a personal finance class to help you learn how to manage your finances.

To find out more about covering the costs of college, attend the informational session sponsored by H2Orange at Explore UT this Saturday, March 5th, called “Get Hooked on College: Paying for College.” I strongly encourage anyone who doesn’t have his or her college money already in the bank to attend this session.

I also strongly encourage all UT students, parents, alumni, fans and just plain old bottled-water-drinkers to buy H2Orange. No less than 40 percent of the purchase price goes to the UT scholarship fund, and the more money we raise for these kids, the easier it will be for them to have a shot at, say, buying a car or even a house when they get out of school (you know, like students used to be able to do when they graduated). Please remember that the entire community benefits from the financial stability of our college graduates.

Calling all Current and Future Longhorn Moms!


By Traci Andrighetti

Due to a series of tuition hikes, times are already tough for Texas students, but now they may be getting significantly tougher. In light of a $15 billion revenue shortfall, the state legislature is proposing budget cuts for Texas colleges and universities totaling $772 million, nearly $100 million of which will come from Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin alone. Under this plan, financial aid for freshmen and new students, as well as the Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program, will be eliminated.

Whether or not these budget proposals pass, it’s time for all of us to take action to ensure that kids who want to get a college education can still find a way to do so. Countless students like Danielle Flahrity, whom I interviewed for my last blog post, will simply be unable to go to UT — or anywhere else, for that matter — without financial assistance.

I recently spoke to Danielle’s mother, Charlene Flahrity, about her family’s struggles to cover the costs of college and asked her if she had any advice for current and future Longhorn parents who were striving to do the same. Charlene told me that she was unable to save for a college fund for Danielle because she was working and putting herself through school while her daughter was growing up. “I told Danielle that I didn’t want her going through what I went through, so I’m proud of her for putting school first, for being devoted, for setting goals and for helping out by getting scholarships from 4H and FFA.” Unfortunately, Danielle’s scholarships were nowhere near enough to pay for UT. And as Charlene explained, “I couldn’t afford the Texas Tomorrow Fund, so we’re looking at about $100,000 in student loans.”

Based on the overwhelming debt that she and her daughter are facing, Charlene had the following suggestion for Texas parents: “Whatever you do, enroll in a Texas prepaid tuition plan.” If, however, you are unable or unwilling to participate in such a plan, she recommended signing up for a program like Upromise, which allows parents to earn money toward current student loans or future tuition costs through the purchase of groceries and household items. Finally, Charlene urged all parents to do what they can to raise scholarship money for students at UT and elsewhere.

So, to all of you current and future Longhorn moms out there (myself included!), I have three easy and inexpensive ways you can contribute to the UT scholarship fund in hopes that your own child may one day benefit from your efforts:

1) buy H2Orange for yourself and your family as often as possible,
2) serve H2Orange to your friends and neighbors at parties, and
3) sell H2Orange at parent-run functions at your child’s school.

And in the process, please, please, please help spread the message that H2Orange isn’t about making a profit; it’s about helping kids pay for an education at the University of Texas.

H2Orange Blog


By Traci Andrighetti

scholarships, UT, University of Texas, H2Orange, UT WaterMy last post on the H2Orange blog sparked a lot of conversation among my friends, most of whom are University of Texas alumni from the 1980’s, about the current price tag of a UT degree. As inevitably happens when I talk to people my age or older about this subject, someone suggested that students should “work their way through school” instead of relying on financial aid. No matter how many times I hear this comment, I’m always amazed that anyone would think it’s still possible for students to find jobs that will cover the exorbitant costs of college. To put things into perspective, in the ‘80’s the price of 15 hours of tuition at UT ranged from a low of $250 to a high of $550. Back then my friends who waited tables could earn their tuition money in a week simply by picking up extra shifts. Today, that same 15 hours runs around $4700. Now, I ask you, just how many restaurants are there in Austin where a student can make $4700 in a week?

To shed some light on what it’s like to try to pay for UT in 2010-2011, I asked one of my former Italian students, Sarah “Danielle” Flahrity, to share her story. Danielle immediately responded, “My Mom is a single Mom and a teacher. If it wasn’t for financial aid, I couldn’t be here at all.” She explained that applying for financial aid through the government no longer even comes close to covering the price of college; the Federal Perkins Loans and Stafford Loans, as well as the grants from the state of Texas and UT that applying for these loans qualifies her for, don’t even cover half of her tuition, much less books, room and board. So Danielle has to take out College Access Loans, known as CAL loans, to help with the remaining expenses. But with the high cost of rent in Austin, CAL loans still don’t make up the difference. When I asked her if she has any scholarships, she told me that she had been awarded a few one-time scholarships from her involvement in various high school organizations. But like so many UT students, Danielle had a tough freshman year, so she never applied for other scholarships because her GPA was too low. Despite the difficulty of her financial situation, Danielle stressed, “Lots of kids are worse off than me because they don’t have parents who can help them at all, like in an emergency with rent.”

Adding to Danielle’s money concerns, she needs a Master’s degree to find work in her field, which is a worrisome trend in the job market. As we discussed her plans to apply to graduate school, she nervously confided, “I’m afraid to find out how much I already owe.” Although it may seem hard to believe that she doesn’t know the exact amount of her student loan debt, countless students at UT and at schools around the nation are just like her. Many are afraid to see the total amount they have borrowed for fear that it will force them to quit school. And quitting college is just not a viable option when you’re saddled with thousands of dollars in loans. According to data from the nonprofit Project on Student Debt, if Danielle is a typical case, she will owe $80,000 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40772705/ns/business-cnbc_tv by the time she completes her undergraduate education.

So, how can your purchase of H2Orange make a difference to a UT student who is burdened with such overwhelming debt? As the saying goes, a little goes a long way. To quote Danielle, “Five hundred dollars is a huge help; that’s almost rent. But even a hundred dollars is better than nothing. Anything, literally, helps out.”

“Why I Bleed Orange”

By Traci Andrighetti

The strong, resolute image of the University of Texas tower has always been a source of inspiration for me. Throughout my many years as an undergraduate and then later as a graduate student at the university, I would often glance at the tower on a hectic and stressful day to reinforce my resolve to forge ahead. The day I finally turned in my dissertation, I sat alone on the steps beneath the tower to gather the courage to face the uncertain future looming before me. Now, every time I see a bottle of H2Orange I feel that little surge of determination that I used to get from looking up at the real tower.

Clearly, though, the best thing about H2Orange isn’t the images the tower-shaped bottle evokes, but what that bottle is doing for students at the University of Texas. I’ve been teaching Italian at UT for the last eleven years, so I’ve had the opportunity to witness firsthand the effects of the ever-rising costs of tuition on the students. I simply don’t have the words to describe the enormous stress these kids, not to mention their families, are under as they try to figure out how to pay for college semester after semester, year after year. But I can share an experience I had with one of my students last year that says it all.

After class one Thursday afternoon, a student approached me and asked me if I would write her a letter of recommendation for a scholarship that was being offered by her sorority. She was a shy and quiet young woman, and I could tell that it was extremely difficult for her to ask me for this recommendation, especially since the deadline for the letter was the very next day. Realizing how much this scholarship must have meant to her, I wrote the letter that night, e-mailed it to the appropriate person at her sorority and then promptly forgot all about it. The following Monday, I was walking toward Rainey Hall when I saw a figure running straight toward me from the direction of the tower. I was startled and confused for a moment, but then I recognized that figure as the student I had written the letter for. When she reached me, she threw her arms around my neck and gave me a HUGE hug. Then she let go and started jumping up and down with sheer joy, yelling: “I got it! I got it! I got the scholarship!” At that point, I became excited too, wondering how many thousands of dollars that scholarship must have been worth to make such a shy girl so animated and excited. Was it two thousand dollars? Five thousand? Or even ten thousand? So then I asked her the amount and I’ll never forget how moved—and how humbled—I felt when she told me that the scholarship was only for two hundred dollars.

So, to anyone out there who is reading this blog, please don’t underestimate the good that you can do for UT students by buying a case, a six-pack or just a bottle of H2Orange. As you can see from my story, even a small amount of money can make an enormous difference to these kids. And thank you, H2Orange, for caring enough to do something to help out struggling UT students in these tough economic times.

Horns up for 200 Bucks Contest!

Just in time for the Holiday Season, win a $200 gift card to the UT Co-op by showing some ‘Waterhorn’ pride! Take a photo of yourself (or someone who has given you permission to use their image) with H2Orange bottles ‘horns high’, and the fan with the most votes wins! To enter through our “contest” tab, click here:  Good luck!

“Why I Bleed Orange”

By Shannon Kelley

I have completed one year at UT and have absolutely no regrets! I had heard all the rumors about “how great UT is” and that “you will love it!” It is now safe to say that I actually agree! One of the great aspects of being a Longhorn is that I’ve always felt like I fit in. There truly is a spot for everyone to feel at home. I was a cheerleader in high school and have always been an avid sports fan. The Texas sporting events are definitely like none I had experienced before. Growing up in Fort Worth, I went to many TCU events, but they don’t even compare to those in Austin. Everything from the band, to the fans, to Bevo, to the dedication of the players makes me proud to be a Longhorn. Although classes are far from being a breeze, I am certain that I am getting one of the best educations our country has to offer.

For the past two years in a row, I have received the Southwest Bank scholarship from the George and Thelma McFarland Scholarship Fund. I was shocked to receive it as a senior in high school and even more shocked when I was the recipient again last year! The scholarship was based on both academics and extracurricular activities. It was so exciting to know that all my hours of late night studying, volunteering at my church, and being involved in school had paid off. I had never actually realized how expensive college is and this money made a huge impact. Even though it doesn’t cover everything, it makes things much easier for my parents and me. Since we have this extra money, I’ve been able to spend more time studying in college instead of taking on a part time job to pick up a little extra money. I am truly grateful to have received this honor, as it has been beneficial both financially and by giving me peace of mind.

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