Archive for the ‘College Life’ Category

5 Ways to Plan for the Perfect Dorm Room Atmosphere

Categories: College Life

dorm room decorationWhen you think about venturing off to college, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it was starting a life on my own – my own place, my own plans, my own rules (well, for the most part). I was ready to find myself, and discover who I wanted to be professionally.

It was an incredibly exciting time, but just like any new adventure, there were tinges of fear. Of all of the things that helped me transition into this new life, I found the most satisfaction in the creation of a stress-free environment in the one place on campus I had some control over: my dorm room.

Faced with a shared space that was barely large enough to fit two beds and felt like a concrete dungeon, my roommate and I tasked ourselves with creating an atmosphere in which we could thrive. It wasn’t perfect from the start, but it became a place of our own and a place we were proud of.

Here are five takeaways from our adventure to help you make the most of your new place.

1. Plan Ahead
Find out what the facility furnishes for you and what you’ll need to bring. You can also ask ahead whether or not you can remove any of the furniture they provide. Perhaps you have a great dresser at home that will work better in the space than the one available. Also, get in touch with your roommate to coordinate who will bring what shared items and if either of you have a theme in mind for your space.

2. Think Functional
While out shopping or perusing your home for items to take, look for things that are just as functional as they are visually appealing. The best pieces allow you to make storage space below, can easily be stacked upon or serve multiple purposes. The perfect desk accessories are a must, because they keep you organized yet stylish.

3. Set Spaces
You’re about to move from a full home to a single room, but you have to accomplish many of the same tasks with much less space. The best way to do this and not get overwhelmed is to designate a space for everything. A place to study, lounge, sleep, get ready, and hang out with friends. Think about what spaces can pull double-duty for you. By assigning spaces, you’re not only making sure you make the most of the items you bring into your room, but you’re also setting yourself up for success. (Planned study space is key!)

4. Less is More
When you first move into your dorm room, take only the basics along with a few key decorations. You can always add to your room, but parting with an item once it has already made a home is easier said than done.

5. Bring Home With You, But Make the Space Yours
Whether it’s furniture, knick-knacks or pictures, bringing in items that remind you of home will help alleviate some of that homesickness. Find the right balance of old and new by carrying over pieces from home with new items just for you. A great way to do this is to create new, more functional items from old ones. Whether that’s getting a new frame or print of an old photo or repurposing a piece of furniture, bring items into your new space that make you feel at home.

Moving into your dorm room is just the first milestone of your college career. Take this first step of your new adventure by letting your space be the best representation of yourself—past, present and future.

Catherine is a young communications professional who loves empowering the next generation of graduates. In her spare time, Catherine is a career development and home décor writer for Tiny Prints, her recommended site for personalized dorm room décor (here). Follow Catherine on her blog (here).

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3 Ways Community College Can Save You Money

Categories: College Life

It’s no secret college is expensive. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average annual cost of a private four-year university has shot up to $33,716. While college is important, most people find paying for college impossible unless they have scholarships or grants to help cover the cost.

But even if you’ve taken the initiative to apply for scholarships and other sources of free money for college, a four-year school can still be out of your price range.


That’s where community colleges come in.

Community colleges sometimes get a bad rap. You may have heard that they’re for people with low GPAs. People who can’t get in anywhere else. People who weren’t motivated enough to apply to a good four-year school on time.

Guess what? None of these stereotypes are true. Community colleges offer you a huge bang for your buck, allowing you to graduate with no debt, or significantly fewer loans than you may have taken out at a four-year university. Here are some of the things you’ll save on:

With college costs skyrocketing, everyone’s trying to save money on tuition. By choosing community college, you’ll spend thousands – sometimes tens of thousands – less in tuition and fees. If you’re on a budget or haven’t been granted any scholarships or grants, community college is a great place to cut back on tuition expenses.

The majority of community college students live with their families. Even if you’re responsible for helping out by paying for groceries or certain bills, it’s significantly cheaper to live at home than it is to live in a dorm. You can also save big by eating at home instead of buying a meal plan or eating  out all the time.

If you can take public transportation to school, you’ll really be able to save big. But even driving a short distance to your local community college a few days a week can be cheap if your other option is a college on the opposite coast. The cost of plane tickets home for Thanksgiving weekend, winter break, spring break, summer vacation, and any other long weekends you want to spend with family can add up quickly.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a four-year school, but don’t discount a community college right away – it just may be your best bet when it comes to paying for college.

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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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