Part of getting a college education is about learning the things that aren’t in books or in lectures. In fact, much learning is done in terms of self-maturation and navigating things like time-management, friendships and relationships, health and wellness, and finances. College is about academics but it’s also about finding your groove, employing best practices, balancing work and fun, realizing your strengths and weaknesses, and developing efficiencies to help you succeed without compromising quality or ethics. It’s all important and part of the larger experience. With this school year wrapping up, summer sessions nearing, and some time to reflect before fall semester, read what other students have found helpful and give some thought to incorporating these tricks into your own college routine.
Summer is coming. What are your plans for the next few months until you head back to school? While you certainly want to relax and forget about the stresses of college studies, you may also want to devote some time to financial management and saving money. Tuition isn’t cheap and the money decisions you make during your undergraduate years can shape your post-college financial future (just ask anyone with student loans or someone who was convinced that a free t-shirt was a good reason to take on a high-interest credit card). Take a few minutes and check out our tips for saving and generating some cash this summer.
- Invest in a Short-Term CD: If you have any sort of a nest egg that you won’t need over the summer months, consider investing it in a short-term CD. The interest rate you receive won’t make you rich but it will be more than what you'd get leaving your money in a checking account account and you won't be tempted to withdraw it for debit-card purchases. Starter CDs require just a small amount of money for a small amount of time so if you have a few hundred dollars or more and you won't need it for six months or so, bank it in a CD for more interest. Remember that the more you invest at first and for the longer the duration, the more interest you'll earn, but the penalties for early withdrawal can be substantial so don't over-commit. Check rates online at NerdWallet or Bankrate.
- Relax in General and Relax on Entertainment Expenses: College can be stressful so it's expected that you unwind and let off steam. But given that this is college we're talking about, nothing is done on a small scale. Big exams and big papers tend to mean big parties immediately following. Take time this summer to enjoy things being a little less intense all around. Without the stress of hardcore studies and exams and deadlines, you can chill on smaller, cheaper scale. Instead of hosting that costly mega-bash or bar-hopping, get together with friends and family for things like game night, day hiking, walking dogs, catching up while doing some deck sitting, and movie marathons when summer storms hit.
- Work: Take a part-time summer job or an internship. In addition to earning some money, you'll meet new people, make valuable connections, gain experience, figure out what you like doing and are good at, and come to appreciate your free time a lot more. If you're serious about your direction already, get the scoop on summer internships (it's not too late!) If you're still finding yourself, enjoy working without the pressure of making it into a career and be open to doing stuff like waiting tables (you'll make amazing friends and eat cheap) or do landscaping (you'll get a tan and be ripped). If you're on the less-active side of things, turn Web time into paid time and do surveys for a company like Pinecone Research.
- Pay Off Credit Card Debt: Every dollar you pay down on your balances is one less dollar you have to pay interest charges on moving forward. Take a look at your balances and use any money you earn over the summer to bring down your debts. Credit-card debt is a killer whether you’re in school or not, and the sooner you get it paid off, the more money you can save. Remember that you don't have to pay it all at once, just chip away at it by every month paying off more than you spend.
- Take Advantage of the Time at Home: If you’re currently living off-campus, do not make the mistake of remaining in that housing over summer break if you’re paying monthly rent. Move out or sublet the place and go home for the summer where the cost of living is much less. Even though living back under your parents’ roof can be a pain, you can save big time on expenses. If mom and dad are the generous type, you’re likely to enjoy free food and laundry services while you save on several months’ rent. Just be cool about it and show your appreciation. Help out around the house, hug your folks, and give thanks for how good it is to come home and find support and love.
If you hadn’t already noticed, the cost of college is astounding. Even if you’ve never been a planner, it’s important to understand that the average college student now graduates with a stunning $27,000 in student loan debt. Kick back all you want over the summer, just keep costs in mind. For every dollar you don’t spend this summer, that’s one more dollar you can put toward your loan balances.
Guest post courtesy of MoneyCrashers.com‘s Josh Hall, a personal-finance writer who discusses college costs, money management, and smart budgeting tips.
Got a summer internship already lined up? Still looking for one? Considering whether an internship is right for you? We can help. Here’s the scoop on types of summer internships, how to be a good intern, and what to expect in terms of compensation and experience and subsequent job leads after internship.
March is just around the corner and with it comes the countdown to the best college vacay known to humankind: Spring Break! Whatever you’re up to, travel or volunteering or catching up on much-needed sleep or chilling with your family back home or parties by day and night, get your must-do’s organized so you maximize your break time and return to college rejuvenated.
Over a 40-year career, a college graduate earns $650,000 more than someone with some or no college, the Pew Research Foundation found. While there are some anomalies in the data, you’ll generally increase your lifetime income by finishing a degree. While this can be an enormous boon if you are raising a child, buying a house or planning to retire, it also can improve your daily life.
There are plenty of ways to get those last credits under your belt, including online education opportunities that adapt to your schedule. For instance, you can use a college locator like CollegeOnline to find learning opportunities in your area. If you stopped college before you finished your degree, here are five benefits that may motivate you to finish your education:
1. Higher marketability and better job retention rates.
The College Board’s Education Pays study revealed that college graduates have better job retention rates in a recession-related layoff than their peers who did not finish college. Even if a college graduate is laid off from work, she’ll have an easier time finding another job than a peer who does not have an undergraduate degree. If you faced tough times since the 2008 recession, getting a degree can increase your prospects of thriving through the next recession.
2. Improved self-esteem and confidence.
The Education Pays study also reported that college graduates are better equipped to handle difficult challenges and report more satisfaction when doing so. Over time, this can lead directly to more confidence on and off the clock, and higher rates of self-esteem.
3. Access to better jobs.
The desire to get out of a dead-end job can drive many adults to return to college to finish their degree. When you have a bachelor’s degree, you will qualify for more jobs within your organization and outside the organization. You can interview for better jobs, move up within your company and begin to derive a true satisfaction from what you do, day in and day out.
4. Expanded horizons.
A college degree often forces you to study subjects you might not otherwise have tackled, simply because you need to fulfill a requirement. This can broaden your perspective and offer you new ways to relate to colleagues, friends, family members and your community. If you’ve been putting off your plan to go back to school because you feel that you aren’t very good at math or writing, take heart. Studying these subjects as part of a degree requirement may have unexpected benefits. If you had stuck to a path that was more comfortable to you, you might not reap the benefits that would come from learning new things.
5. New friends and networks.
The connections many people make when in college can have a significant impact on their lives. So if you do decide to go back to school, get involved in the community or make friends with others who are in your classes. You can even connect with friends from online classes via LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networks. After college, your friend may be able to get you an interview (or a job) at her work. Without a college degree, you might not get a leg up on the sort of job you want.
This post comes from Carrie, a second-year student at Portland State University in Oregon. While only in her second year, Carrie has already racked up enough credits for junior standing, all while working as a freelance writer and oboe instructor in addition to her full-time studies — so you know her advice is good! Here’s what she has to say about getting back into the swing of things this term.
5 Tips for Getting Back Into Your School Schedule
Break was the ultimate relief because for just a little while I got to go home and rest. Amazingly enough, however, I was ready to get back to my usual routine about a full week into break when I’d recovered from sleeping for about four days straight. Here's a list of my tried-and-true tips to help you get back into your school routine. I have to admit that I don’t always remember to follow all of them all of the time, but I find that the more I do stick with them, the better I feel and do.
- Prep Your Planner: First of all, if you're not using a planner, I highly recommend that you do! It helps me plan weekends home while also keeping up on what’s due soon. The day I get my syllabi, I write in all of my due dates so that nothing is a surprise later on in the term and I can plan ahead.
- Buy Your Books Early: Searching online by ISBN will ensure that you get the exact books you're looking for and that you can find them for a fraction of the bookstore price by comparing prices across the Web (I use CampusBooks.com because it saves me time and money). Just be sure that you buy your books early so that they ship to you in time for first classes. Saving money on books helps you stress less about finances and it will give you some spending cash to ease into that first week back with some pizza to soften the shock.
- Go to Bed Early: I never sleep well the first week back because I'm having headaches and nightmares about finding classes and not being registered and having bad professors. If I take a small dose of Advil to stop the headache, I can relax and go to bed on time. When I do this and keep a regular schedule for sleeping and waking, I'm ready for the next day.
- Map Your Route: If at all possible, find your classes before you're racing to them! There's nothing more embarrassing than walking into the wrong room or arriving to the right class a half hour late because you couldn’t find it.
- Take Care of Yourself: I notice that making breakfast in the morning, eating fruits and vegetables, staying hydrated, and walking helps me ease back into the change of being back to school. The transition can be rough on the body so it's nice to give your immune system some backup and do things like eat right and exercise to help your mood.
The new year brings with it inspiration for improvement for all of us but also a particular set of resolutions and goals for college students. Those do’s and don’ts you set around January 1? Those ambitions and strategies for change for the better? They’re important but they tend to go by the wayside a week or two in as winter break ends, the new semester kicks off, and old habits return. That said, we’re checking in with you a couple of weeks into the new year with our down-to-earth realistic resolutions and reminders that any college student can stick with for 2014 and years to come. Make this your best year ever!
For many, having a dog waiting for you when you got home from school was a way of life growing up. In fact, The Humane Society estimates there are currently 164 million pets in American homes. As many students move away to attend college, they may consider owning a dog of their own — but what are the pros and cons of owning bringing a canine friend while pursuing further education?
Owning a dog can contribute to your overall well-being in a variety of unexpected ways. Pets are excellent stress reducers, and spending time petting your dog can reduce your blood pressure and release relaxation hormones to help you to function more efficiently, according to WebMD. Other positive health benefits often attributed to dog ownership include lower blood pressure, faster recovery from illness and injury, and lower cholesterol levels.
Dogs can be lovable, albeit messy. Dogs, especially puppies, come with the additional responsibility of cleaning up after them. If you adopt a puppy, you will have to housebreak the pup, which can take a lot of time and patience. Additionally, dogs need to be bathed, brushed, and have their nails clipped regularly.
Pro: Physical Fitness
Dogs need exercise and aren’t shy about it. Dog owners are more likely to go walk or run with them and having a dog almost forces you to exercise regularly. While you might be content to sit on the couch instead of exercise, a dog who doesn’t get regular walks will become restless and possibly destructive around the house. There’s no better motivator to get out and run than the possibility of a ruined couch.
If there’s one thing you’re short on while attending college, it’s money. Owning a dog can be a big financial commitment. Flag Pets reports the average cost of pet ownership comes to about $360 a year just for food — vaccinations and annual medical treatment can exceed $200. That doesn’t include toys, dog doors, treats, or other supplies. Additionally, if something happens to your pet, such as injury or illness, veterinarian bills can be extremely costly if you’re unprepared for them. Expect a dog to cost in total about $1,000 annually.
Pro: Love and Laughs
Nothing compares to the unconditional love a canine companion provides. They’re always happy to see you and always supportive regardless of how bad a mood you might be in. For students living away from home for the first time, a dog can provide much of the companionship and sense of family that might be missing from their new life. The love and friendship forged between humans and canines is the stuff of novels and films and can last for years to come. Dogs are family.
If you’re the type who enjoys the freedom of going out all night or taking spontaneous road trips, owning a dog might not be feasible. Dogs need to be cared for and arrangements need to be made if you intend to not be home. Dogs can’t be left alone if you decide to stay out all weekend, and caring for a dog doesn’t allow for much error. When trying to figure out whether owning a dog is right for you, keep in mind what your current schedule is like and seriously consider if you have the time and finances to care for a new member of your household.
Making the Right Choice
Whatever you decide to do, think carefully and don’t act impulsively. A pet is a commitment for the animal’s life and not one of convenience. There’s no rush and you’ll have plenty of time soon enough to have a canine companion if now isn’t the right time. And when that time does come, do a solid by your future pup as well as all animals in need and adopt from a shelter or rescue group. Your new bestie will thank you with love and devotion every day for it.
How awesome would it be to have an apartment of your own? It would give you your own space and freedom. It would also give you more bills and a landlord. Off-campus living has many great advantages and plenty of disadvantages to consider before making a move into your own apartment.
Let's start with the obvious. There is no RA looking over your shoulder. You do not need to share a bathroom with a dozen other people. You have autonomy to do what you want to do. If you have the ability to swing an apartment of your own, then you do not need to deal with a roommate. You can be as messy or as clean as you like with no one to criticize you, except maybe a parent on periodic visits. Your own apartment also allows you to bring home dates as you wish. These are all important parts of your development into an adult.
Con: Missing Out
There is a reason the Princeton Review puts out a list of the top party schools. Campus living can be fun and, if you are not there, you can miss out on a lot. This year, the University of Iowa topped the list of party schools. It also came in first on the “Lots Of Hard Liquor” list and forth on the “Lot Of Beer” list. These things are not going to come to you if you are in your apartment. Other fun and academic activities are easier to access when living on campus.
Pro: Working Through The Summer
The hope is that you have a job that allows you to work around your class schedule and has no problem with you leaving for two or three months in the summer. The reality is that that is probably not the case. Most jobs that are okay with you leaving in the summer are intern positions or low paying. Having your own apartment will allow you to keep the job. Of course there is a catch 22 situation to this. You need the apartment to keep the job and you need the good job to keep the apartment.
Con: No Credit
Apartments can be expensive. Look at Boston apartments as an example. According to RentalBeast.com, an average Boston apartment can run about $1,881 per month. They are not just going to give you this apartment because of your good looks. You will need first and last month's rent, a security deposit, and a credit history. If you have no credit history, you may need to come up with an additional deposit or be able to show that you have a strong income. If none of that works, then mom and dad may need to cosign for you.
Pro: Building Credit
You may have no credit now, but establishing a payment history can help create a good credit account. Experian and TransUnion report rental payments as positive credit. If this is important to you then ask your landlord to report lease payments to the credit bureaus. Also, utilities and telephone bills that are paid on time will all show as positive reports towards your credit rating.
Con: Financial Aid Won’t Cover It
If you have a good job that covers rent, then an off-campus apartment may work for you. If you are working from a smaller salary and financial aid, talk to you student financial adviser. Financial aid and student loans generally do not cover living expenses that are not on campus.
Your smartphone isn’t just for posting selfies, Tweeting clever observations, and finding the best happy-hour deals in your town, it’s actually a powerful platform for helping you make the most of your college experience, academic and otherwise. We’ve rounded up a dozen apps beneficial for all college students, regardless of your device’s OS and your personal learning style. Oh, and if you need one more to make perfect baker’s dozen, we’ve got our own CampusBooks.com scanner-enabled app that can help you save on college textbooks and get more cash at buyback.