Archive for the ‘College Life’ Category

Pros and Cons of Going to the Same College as Your Sibling

Categories: College Life

sisters-arguing-each-otherHave an older sibling in college and starting your own college search? You may be weighing the pros and cons of going to the same school as your brother or sister. Deciding if a college is a good fit for you always takes a bit of soul searching, but the decision on whether or not to go to the same college as your sibling warrants its own considerations. We thought long and hard about the many pros and cons of going to the same college as your sibling and want to share our thoughts.

Pro: You’ll Have Inside Knowledge

As someone with an older sibling, you may be used to having had someone pave the way for you. Being a college freshman is tough, there is a lot you need to learn in a short amount of time. An older sibling who knows the ropes can make things easier. Knowing which dorms and professors are the best, and which dining hall stations to avoid, will save time and reduce stress. Fellow freshmen may start looking to you for help, which can lead to making new friends.

Con: You’ll Have Inside Knowledge

This isn’t a typo. Having inside knowledge before you get to campus can also be a con. Your sibling’s preferences may influence you so much that you won’t explore opportunities that you should. College is the time to follow your own path, so think through your sibling’s advice and make sure it makes sense for you before following it. Wandering around campus and learning your way is a part of the freshman experience. Let yourself explore on your own, even if it means getting a little lost sometimes!

Pro: Shared Experiences Create Bonding

Going to the same college as your sibling will allow you to relate to them in new ways. You’ll have new experiences together and be able to bond over your similar memories long after you both graduate. Siblings who never got along as children sometimes grow closer as they mature and move away from home. You may find that you appreciate your sibling more when you don’t live under the same roof, but on the same campus.

Con: Shared Experiences Create Comparisons

Unfortunately, sibling comparisons don’t always stop after high school. If you go to the same school as your sibling you may start comparing your experience at your school to theirs. For example, if your sibling met their best friend on their first day of college, you may feel concerned if you don’t click with anyone in your orientation group. Our advice is to relax and remember that every college experience is different. You wouldn’t want the exact same experience as your sibling, would you? Enjoy going at your own pace and finding your own place.

Pro: Built-in Support

The first few months of college can be tough and the transition from high school is full of unexpected challenges. Having your older sibling on campus who has been through many of the changes you are experiencing can be comforting. You will meet new friends, and you’ll eventually feel close enough to confide in them. However, during those initial rough patches, getting ice cream with an older sibling probably beats a tearful phone call home.

Con: Worlds Colliding

Even if you go to a big school, there’s still the possibility of your academic and social lives overlapping. It’s common for college students to interact with students of every class year through dorm life, classwork, extracurriculars, and social activities. Be prepared to run into your sibling on campus between classes, or at a party on the weekend. If the idea of your worlds colliding makes you anxious, talk to your sibling and set some ground rules.

Pro: Financial Benefits

There are several financial benefits of going to school with your sibling. Some colleges offer a variety of discounts to families that have multiple children enrolled at the same time. Additionally, if you’re on the same campus as your sibling you can share a car or a bike, or at least carpool together on your way to and from home for breaks. Schedule regular sibling dinners where you can catch-up while cooking a home-cooked meal. It’ll save you both money and give you a break from the dining hall.

Con: Next Generation of Hand Me Downs

You can see this as a pro or a con. If you go to the same college as your older sibling, you may stand to inherit some stuff you may or may not want. Upperclassmen love to dump their used stuff on freshmen, and you’ll not only have your sibling, but all of their friends, looking to you to take stuff off their hands. You may get jealous of other first years who take multiple trips to Target and Bed Bath & Beyond, and decorate their rooms with brand new shiny things. Keep in mind that in a few months college life will set it and these dorm rooms will no longer look so pinterest-worthy. Plus, your secondhand futon and refrigerator, though they may not match, are a whole lot cheaper!

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Purge Your College Budget of These Money Wasters in 2015

Categories: College Life

urlAs a college student, you probably don’t have a big stash of cash, and maxing out your credit cards can ruin your credit score. But you hate to turn down a good concert and spring break is right around the corner. So how do you avoid financial disaster without living like a recluse? Our tips for creating a college budget will prove that all you need is a dash of discipline and dose of creativity to make your cash stretch further than you ever thought possible.

1. Entertainment
Money waster: Compared to other entertainment options, you might think going to the movies is cheap. But the cost of admission is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you’re there, you’re sure to head to the snack bar where you’ll fork out cash for popcorn, candy, and soda.

Penny saver: Grab an “almost new” release from Redbox or Netflix and invite a few friends over to your dorm room. Split the cost of pizza, soda, and chips and you can enjoy a Friday night movie marathon for half the price of going to the theater. Bonus: You can take a bathroom break whenever you want without missing a thing. If you need a theater fix, go during the day when ticket prices are generally cheaper and don’t forget to ask about a student discount.

2. School Supplies
Money waster: No doubt that fancy pen looks cool and you’d like to upgrade your computer, but spending money on unnecessary school supplies can put a serious drain on your budget.

Penny saver: Consider buying school supplies in bulk and splitting the cost with a few friends. From notebooks and highlighters, to USB flash drives, buying in bulk is a smart move. And instead of charging a new computer on your credit card, start a savings plan and, once you’ve saved enough, pay in cash. Keep in mind that there’s a best and worst time to buy things you’ll need as a college student. For example, school supplies and computers are often discounted in August and September when retailers offer back to school deals. And don’t forget that some retailers offer additional savings to college students, so shop with your college ID in hand.

3. Food and Drink
Money waster: According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor, the average college student spends over seven percent of their income on dining out and nearly two percent on buying alcohol. That’s roughly twice the amount someone in their 40’s or 50’s spends. From nixing your daily latte to avoiding a late night burger, there’s a good chance you can free up cash by making better choices when it comes to food and drink.

Penny saver: College-aged or not, we all make the mistake of eating out for convenience sake. Instead of running to your favorite fast food joint, consider getting on a meal plan and using it. Your college’s meal plan may cost a pretty penny upfront, but it will likely save you a lot of money in the long run. For dorm snacks, buy in bulk with your suitemates and stash a few goodies in your backpack so you won’t waste money on that snack machine outside the lecture hall.

4. Transportation
Money waster: Having a car at college is a nice perk, but car insurance, parking permits, gas, and regular upkeep can take a toll on your meager budget.

Penny saver: If you must have a car at school, keep it parked as often as possible and opt for public transportation. If mass transit isn’t an option, carpool whenever possible and “just say no” to that pal who is constantly nagging you for a lift.

5. Consider a Cheaper College
Money waster: Going to a prestigious college can offer some benefits, but only if you can afford it. Unfortunately many college-bound seniors don’t consider the long-term financial impact of going to a pricey college, not the least of which is being saddled with exorbitant student loan debt that could take decades to pay off.

Penny saver: There are a few reasons to consider transferring colleges, and saving money is one of them. Believe it or not, a handful of affordable private colleges and universities offer an excellent education. You might also consider going to a budget-friendly community college and then transferring to the university of your dreams at the start of your junior year. If you decide to stay put, boost your money management IQ with an online course like the “Money Matters” course a few colleges in Minnesota offer.

Start saving money today by creating a budget.
If this is the semester you’re going to get serious about cracking down on your spending, you need to establish a budget. A budget will not only reveal where you’re wasting money, it can also help you get your spending under control and keep it that way. Best yet, you’ll develop amazing money management skills that will serve you well throughout college and beyond. To get started, use an interactive budget worksheet or a convenient budgeting app created especially for college students.

Build a budget and use these tips to spend your pennies wisely. Then explore more ways to be a money savvy college student.

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Productivity Boost: Organizational Tips for Making Your Dorm Room the Study Safe Haven of Your Dreams

Categories: College Life

YAs a retired Resident Advisor, I can honestly say that I have seen an abundance of dorm rooms. Hundreds in fact. The good, the bad, the clean, the filthy—I’ve seen it all. And in my time, I have seen some truly ingenious ways to organize small spaces. Organization can be the key to determining whether your room is a productive, study-friendly haven or just a place where you dump your dirty laundry every few days.

There are things, like living alone or having a lofted bed, that may help with space control. But for this article, let’s assume that most of you have a standard, shared dorm-style room with all of the basics: bed, dresser, closet, and desk. Here are a few organizational tips that will help you turn your space into the study spot you desperately desire.


Ah, the bed. The true focal point of your room. The place for you to crash between classes and to prop yourself up just right when you have a serious amount of reading to do. The key to having your bed be the best bed it can be is simple—you have to make it. I know, you probably don’t need another person in your life telling you to make your bed, but it’s true! If you leave it unmade and bunched up, you’re more likely to pile things on top of it, and just like that there will be textbooks and clothes caught between your sheets. It will lose its relaxing appeal. If you take two minutes (it probably won’t even take you two minutes!) to make it every day, it will set the precedent to keep the rest of your room a relaxing and clean space. If your residence hall allows it, lift your bed up with bed risers to get more storage space under your bed. Every little inch counts!


It is amazing how quickly your closet and your dresser can get out of control. You wake up in the morning and everything is tidily organized, only to find that two outfits later the floor is littered with every kind of clothing. At the beginning of a new semester, you should start fresh. Go through each dresser drawer and refold the things that are in disarray. Purge your wardrobe of anything you haven’t worn in the last six months, or you know you won’t wear in the next six. A great way to keep track of this is to do the hanger test. Store cold weather gear like gloves and hats in bins, rather than having them floating around the bottom of your drawers. And hang coats on the outside of your closet to save space for clothes inside.


When your laundry isn’t a clean mess in your closet, it’s a dirty mess on your floor. The best trick to combat this is to only allow yourself one laundry hamper—and make it a small one. Then promise yourself that when the basket gets full, you will wash its contents. If you wait too long to wash, it’s too late. Keeping your dirty laundry to a small amount makes the task more manageable. And it will take you a lot less time to put away when you’re done.


One word: multifunction. Finding multiple ways to use a piece of furniture is the key to organizing a small space. For example, a storage trunk is a great way to store all of your toiletries, snacks, extra linens, etc. It also makes a great coffee table or extra seat for when your friends stop by. If your residence hall allows it, don’t hesitate to put up shelving to hold things like dishes and laundry detergent. You want to get that stuff up and tucked away so that it doesn’t clutter any of your work spaces.


Speaking of work space, your desk is your work space. You need to keep it cleaned and organized in order for it to remain a place where you can study. The only things you should be keeping on or in your desk are books, work materials, important documents, and your computer. Organize your books and notebooks together, first by class and then by day of the week. Use drawer organizers to keep things like paper clips and pushpins in one place. I would also recommend a file holder like this to keep track of financial information, contracts, and bills. Get a dry erase calendar that will help your organize your priorities for the week, but is small enough to fit in a tight space.

By following these organizational tips, you can create a clean and more relaxing work environment for you and your friends! Good luck this semester!

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