Archive for the ‘College Life’ Category

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.

image credit: moneytalksnews.com

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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.

Bed

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!

Closet

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.

Laundry

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.

Storage

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.

Desk

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!

image credit: go2fresnostate.com

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New Year, New School: Why Transferring Colleges Might be a Smart Move

Categories: College Life

time-for-changeTransferring from your current college to a new one is a big deal, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right move. In fact, if it’s done for the right reasons, transferring colleges might be the best decision you make for your education and career.

If you’re thinking about transferring colleges this year, check out this list of good (and bad) reasons for doing so.

 

Good Reason to Transfer Colleges: You want to change majors.

Perhaps you chose your current college because it offers a top-notch business school; however, working as a camp counselor last summer helped you realize teaching is your life’s mission. If your current school doesn’t offer a degree program in education or whatever new course of study you choose, it could be time to transfer to a school that does.

Bad Reason to Transfer Colleges: You’re unsure about your major.

Maybe you’re in your sophomore year and still don’t have a clue what you want to major in. Transferring colleges offers you a chance to delay this important decision, but it also means you could lose credits and have to spend more money. Before packing your bags, have a heart-to-heart talk with your college advisor and ask for their input.

 

Good Reason to Transfer Colleges: You don’t feel safe on campus.

College is your home away from home. If you truly don’t feel safe on campus, it’s time to transfer. While no school is 100 percent safe, some schools do a better job than others of keeping your well-being in mind. All colleges must report crime statistics to the U.S. Department of Education, making it a great resource for comparing crime statistics of schools across the country.

Bad Reason to Transfer Colleges: You’re convinced your college campus is swarming with thieves.

No campus is crime free. Just because you left your laptop at the library and someone swiped it doesn’t mean there’s a crime problem at your school. Whether you transfer or not, keep these campus safety tips in mind and remember safety starts with you.

 

Good Reason to Transfer Colleges: You’re graduating!

You’ve just completed coursework to earn your degree from a two-year college and you’re ready to hit a four-year college campus as a junior. Transferring to a larger, four-year school can take a bit of getting used to, but it won’t be long before you’re settled in and making new friends.

Bad Reason to Transfer Colleges: You’re bored.

The social life at community college has let you down and you’ve decided you want to party like a rock star at a four-year university. Slow down; there will be plenty of time to get your groove on. Meanwhile, why not form a club based on something you enjoy and meet other students with similar interests?

 

Good Reason to Transfer: The vibe isn’t right.

No matter how many times you visit campus before registering, you won’t really know if a college is a good fit for you until you’re a student there. If you’ve been trying for a few semesters but still don’t feel like you fit in, it might be time to transfer, especially if your grades (and spirit) are suffering.

Bad Reason to Transfer: Your BFF is changing schools and begs you to follow suit.

It’s always tough when a good friend transfers to a new school, but following him or her is probably not a smart move. If your dearest pal heads off to a new school, resist the urge to withdraw. Join a club, try intramural sports, or volunteer; do whatever it takes to keep meeting people. Eventually you’ll find a classmate you “click” with.

 

Good Reason to Transfer: You miss your family.

Many college-bound students can’t wait to be on their own, but a good number of students struggle with feeling homesick. If you come from a very close family, you might find transferring to a college closer to home creates the optimum balance between family and freedom.

Bad Reason to Transfer: You feel guilty about leaving your family and hate to let them down.

Some families are better than others at cutting the apron strings. If your family is distressed about your departure, video chat with them and tell them about campus activities. Eventually they’ll stop laying down the guilt trip and embrace your collegiate career.

 

Good Reason to Transfer: Tuition and living expenses are putting too much of a burden on you or your family.

If the cost of school and related expenses are more than you or your family can afford, or you’re racking up major student loans, transferring colleges might not be a bad idea. Chances are, you can find a school that offers the education and college experience you want without breaking the bank.

Bad Reason to Transfer: You have to work part-time and that’s a drag.

There’s no doubt that working a part-time job means there’s less time to socialize and take part in extracurricular activities, but it also forces you to get organized, stay on schedule, and prioritize competing demands. And guess what? Mastering those skills will help make you an attractive candidate to employers once you graduate.

 

Deciding to transfer colleges is a serious decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but if you think transferring will help you achieve your personal, academic, and career goals, it just might be the smartest move to make.

image credit: motivationandchange.com

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