Meal plans are expensive, so many students have no choice but to handle grocery shopping and cooking on their own. But don’t fret. It’s possible to survive without a meal plan — even if it will be your first time purchasing food on your own and cooking it.

Get Some Basic Cooking Supplies

To master cooking on your own, you need some basic supplies. Pick up some pots and pans, a can opener, a cutting board, knives, measuring cups and spoons, a mixing bowl, a slotted spoon and spatula, and flatware. If your dorm or apartment doesn’t have a microwave and toaster, bring those appliances.

Extras like a blender or juicer aren’t essential, but they can help you add some healthy variety to your diet. Plus, smoothies are easy to grab in the morning if you’re in a rush. Invest in some plastic food storage containers as well. This will help you store seconds and eliminate the need to wrap extras in foil or zip-close bags.

Keep in mind that if you have a small room or will be hand-washing dishes, it may be easier to only get enough bowls, plates, pots, and pans for one day of cooking. This will reduce clutter and force you to clean up after each meal rather than letting dishes pile up.

Invest in a Good Coffee Maker

If you like coffee, a good coffee maker is essential. Coffee from cafes is expensive, and preparing your own brew at home is easy and a fraction of the cost. Plus, your coffee maker can also brew loose leaf tea.

Conquer the Grocery Store

Create a list of the groceries you need, and head to the store early in the morning or late at night to beat the crowds. Consider making trips to the store once per week and only picking up what you need for that week. This will eliminate clutter, and it will reduce the likelihood of food being wasted before you can eat it.

Master Spices and Veggies

If you’re on a budget, spices and veggies can take your meals to the next level. For example, you can prepare ramen noodles with some spices and squash, mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes. Mix in some crunched-up tortilla chips and add a dollop of sour cream to turn soup or ramen from plain to impressive.

Prepare Your Meals for the Week

If you have the time, preparing future meals and freezing them can make cooking for yourself much easier. For example, instead of preparing a single helping of chicken and pasta, you can prepare enough for a few days and freeze the extras in plastic containers. You’ll just need to grab the container from the fridge and microwave it.

This strategy is also good for smoothies. Prepare a large batch and store it in a pitcher. For breakfast a few days out of the week, you’ll just need to pour a glass and pick out some fruit or a pastry to complete your meal.

Surviving without a meal plan may seem like a challenge, but it’s a great opportunity to exercise your independence and save some money. Follow these tips, and you’ll grow to love preparing your own meals every week.

It happens to the best of us. Exam week seems so far away, and there’s all the time in the world to study — until suddenly there isn’t. Cramming is now the only option. To make the most of your cramming sessions, make sure to avoid these three study habits.

Rereading Your Notes

You’ll need to study your notes, of course, but you won’t remember much by simply rereading them. Rereading helps with recognition but not recall. If you want to ace your exams, you’ll need to use a different study method.

People remember information more easily when they process it on a deeper level. To do this, you can rewrite the material in a way that makes sense to you. You could also explain facts and concepts — in your own words — to a study partner. It may feel like you’re spending more time than usual on each topic, but you’ll remember far more this way than by skimming through your notes.

Cramming Way Too Late

There’s regular cramming, and then there’s last-minute-panic cramming. If you’ve waited until the day of your exam to start studying, your anxiety will go through the roof. The more stressed you feel, the more difficult it is to remember anything. Another common mistake students make is staying up late cramming the night before. You might be able to pull it off, but you’ll be sleep-deprived during the exam, and your performance will suffer.

Try to set aside a reasonable amount of time to cram for an exam. You’ll need more study time for the more difficult exams or for the classes you’re most behind in. Giving yourself one or two extra days to study (even if you really need another six days) can make the difference between passing or failing.

Studying Too Long in One Session

If your exam is only a day or two away, you may feel you have no choice but to study for eight hours straight. However, you won’t retain much information this way. Most students can only study for 25 to 30 minutes before their concentration falters. If you have a limited amount of time to study, you want to use that time as efficiently as possible.

Break up a longer study session into smaller, multiple periods of 25 to 30 minutes. Take breaks of at least 15 minutes between each study period. Do something you enjoy on your break, such as grabbing a snack or going for a short walk. According to Dr. Marty Lobdell, a psychology professor, it’s possible (with training) to extend your study-time endurance to an hour or even several hours. Unless you’ve already trained yourself, however, it’s better to keep your cram sessions short and frequent.

Even though it’s better to avoid cramming altogether, sometimes it happens anyway. The next time you find yourself short on time, make sure to set aside more study time for the most difficult classes, study your notes on a deeper level, and take regular breaks during your cram session.

College roommates are a fact of life. You get to make potential life long friends, but you also have to learn how to manage and share expenses. The best way to split expenses might seem like a no-brainer. However, your idea of what’s reasonable may be completely different from what your roommates think; keep these tips in mind to help you manage your shared roommate expenses.

Set Rules Ahead of Time

Your bill payments will go by more smoothly if you and your roommates have a plan. You’ll need to decide who pays for what, how much each person pays, and when payments are due. Costs to consider include utilities, cable, Wi-Fi, and groceries.

Rent is the biggest consideration. Typically, rent is split evenly between roommates. This arrangement may not work, however, if one person’s room is significantly smaller than the other rooms. That roommate might not want to pay as much as everyone else. If that’s your situation, you can use an online rent splitter calculator to figure out a fair price.

You may also want to create an overnight guest policy. A common issue for roommates is the new girlfriend or boyfriend who suddenly starts sleeping over all the time. How much is too much? At what point — if any — should that person start contributing to the household bills? These are the sort of rules you should set ahead of time to help prevent arguments later.

Keep Some Costs Separate

When it comes to splitting costs, groceries fall into a gray area. You might all agree that common items, such as milk or bread, should be shared, while other items should be purchased separately. For example, your vegetarian roommate will never eat your box of frozen chicken wings, so it makes more sense to buy it yourself. Likewise, you shouldn’t have to pay for her almond butter that you don’t eat.

You should also avoid splitting the cost of furniture and electronics. That way, when it’s time to move out, you won’t have to decide who gets to keep the PlayStation 4. Talk to your roommates ahead of time about what shared items you need and figure out who should pay for what.

Hold Each Other Accountable

Nobody likes confrontation. However, if your roommate is behind on a payment, you can’t just ignore it. Try to bring it up without attacking them. It’s possible that they just forgot or had something come up. If forgetfulness is a common issue, you may want to use a money app such as Splitwise. It helps you keep track and split expenses. It also lets you send reminders for upcoming bills and notifications for outstanding IOUs.

Does one person have a habit of blasting the A/C, and now the utility bill is sky-high? Or maybe you’re the one who keeps eating all the cereal that everyone else pays for? Nobody is perfect, which is why you’ll need to hold each other accountable to keep your finances on track.

Living with roommates helps keep your living costs low, so long as you do it right. Follow these tips, and make sure you’re splitting the expenses fairly.

When you’re in college, keeping up with your coursework is challenging. This is especially true if you have other commitments like a part-time job, on-campus activities, or caring for a child. To keep your stress levels under control, try following these four tips for staying on top of your assignments.

Start Right Away

It’s easy to procrastinate, especially at the start of the semester when you only have one or two readings to do. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to just leave it for later. However, it doesn’t take long for those two chapter readings to turn into three, then four, then five — you get the idea. Certain assignments could also take more time to complete than you expect. Therefore, it’s important to start them early before they snowball into an unmanageable amount of work.

Create a Timetable

The only thing worse than writing an assignment at the last minute is missing the deadline completely. You definitely don’t want to show up to class and wonder why everyone but you is handing in his or her statistics assignments already. Isn’t that due next week? Nope! It’s your biology paper that’s due next week.

To avoid this horrifying situation, use a calendar or an app to keep track of upcoming tests and assignment due dates. Schedule time for studying, and make sure to account for unexpected events. You never know when you could come down with the flu or have a family emergency. Aim to finish your assignments two days early. That way, you’ll have an extra cushion of time in case you need it.

Use the Library

If you’re the type of person who can study in your room without getting distracted by social media or whatever your roommate is doing, you may not need the library. However, it’s the perfect place for those who prefer peace and quiet. The library comes in handy if your printer breaks down or you can’t find the peer-reviewed article you want online. You might even find some of the textbooks you need. Bonus: Depending on your school, the library may also have a coffee shop.

Join a Study Group

If you prefer to work with others or just need help with a particularly tough class, consider joining (or creating) a study group. Other students may have insights or study methods you didn’t think of, and discussing the class material can help you understand it better. If you happen to miss a lecture, someone in your group can fill you in.

A study group also helps you stay motivated. Do you want to be the only one who hasn’t read chapter five yet? Probably not. Just keep in mind that a study group is only helpful if everyone stays focused. Making new friends is great and everything, but you should join a different group if your study sessions feel more like hangout sessions.

College students are notorious for pulling off all-nighters and dealing with last-minute panic, but that doesn’t have to be you. Follow these study tips, and you’ll have a much easier time staying on top of your assignments.

The fall semester is well underway, but you’ve still got plenty of time to make stress management a priority. By planning ahead, managing your bank account, and following a few other best practices, you’ll reduce your school-related anxiety and have a much easier time focusing on your studies.

Stay Organized and Stay Ahead

Falling behind on deadlines has a snowball effect in terms of stress. Catching up on late work gives you less time to get ahead on your next assignment. If you’re behind on deadlines, you may not have any time to polish your assignments and deliver the best work possible.
This is a hard cycle to break, so try to stay on top of your schedule this semester. Treat your time like your money: Budget it carefully, and aim to strike a healthy balance between treating yourself, taking breaks and socializing, and committing to your work as a student.

Manage Your College Expenses

College is expensive, and financial woes on top of a loaded semester can make it even harder to stay focused on class work and to stay positive. Follow these tips to get a handle on your school expenses and keep your academic goals a priority:

Rent or buy discounted textbooks: Textbooks will leave a major dent in your semester budget. You can cut these costs by up to 90 percent if you shop around for new and used options outside of the campus bookstore. Renting is another option. You can also sell your books when you’re finished with them to get some of your money back.

Revisit your meal plan: Use your meal plan if you have one. If you prefer to cook on your own, consider dropping the meal plan to minimize your expenses.

Tap into all sources for financial aid:
The FAFSA will connect you with free grants and other types of federal financial aid to cover your academic costs. Check with your school’s financial aid department to see if any institutional grants, loans, or work-study programs are available to help you balance your checkbook this semester.

Look at all your housing options: Moving back home for the semester or moving off campus with a few roommates can greatly reduce your monthly expenses.

Break Things Down and Keep a Positive Outlook

Be deliberate and make stress management a goal this semester. No matter how tough the semester gets, remember to keep things in perspective. These few months are just a slice of your life as a student, and if you take things day by day or even hour by hour, you absolutely will succeed.

If you’re struggling with classwork or feeling negative, reach out to other students who have prioritized their courses and their personal well-being. Forming a study group can help you get through tough subjects, and surrounding yourself with positive people will melt away your stress.

If you find yourself feeling anxious this semester, take a breath and remember that you can do it! Create a schedule and stick to it, keep on top of your personal finances, and keep a positive outlook. Before you know it, you’ll have another successful semester behind you.

Creating the perfect class schedule is a real balancing act. We all learn differently and have our own strengths and weaknesses, so a one-size-fits-all approach never works. So how do you do it? Consider our tips when creating your perfect class schedule.

Take the Right Classes
While your schedule’s timing matters, your course content is crucial. Identify any prerequisite classes for earning your degree and consider where you’ll place them first. You should also note any prerequisite classes for courses you’ll take in future. Prioritize these classes, too. Completing prerequisite courses within your first year or two of college works best, as it opens more opportunities for upper division classes as you approach graduation. It also reduces the chances you will overlook a course required for your degree.

Most prerequisite classes run at different times, so consider which work best for you. Then, build around them. While taking some courses simply because they interest you is fine, make sure you’re also scheduling the courses most relevant to your intended career.

Don’t Overburden Yourself

It’s easy to overburden yourself, especially when you’re a new student excited about the semester ahead. However, taking on too many classes is a recipe for burnout. College blogger Jessica Slaughter suggests taking no more than 16 hours per week. You might take even less if your courses are especially challenging. Use your judgment to avoid overtaxing yourself.

Take Advantage of Times You Work Best

Some of us love early mornings while others are night owls who prefer sleeping until noon. Think about when you’re most alert and schedule your most important or challenging classes for these times. If you don’t have a natural math brain and loathe mornings, an early statistics class will seem like torture. But take it in the evenings and you might just ace those tricky tests.

Schedule Breaks If You Need Them
Some students thrive on a busy schedule, while others feel burned out by back-to-back classes. What kind of personality do you have? Consider what feels more comfortable for you and craft your schedule accordingly, with as many breaks as you need to do your best.

Arrange a Consistent Routine
While our individual behaviors differ, we’re all creatures of habit. Studies show the world’s happiest and most successful people stick to a regular, fairly rigid routine. Remembering this, you should aim to give each day of your week a similar structure.

Starting classes and leaving campus at roughly the same time each day will let you establish a regular sleep schedule. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each night is proven to improve your concentration, memory, and energy levels. While those benefits will help you in the classroom, you’ll also appreciate the impact your consistent sleep schedule has on your health.

Your class schedule has a significant effect on how much you get out of your semester, so it’s crucial you get it right. Consider your own individual goals, habits, strengths, and weaknesses to create the perfect class schedule for you.

Moving into your college apartment is an exciting milestone, a sign you’re stretching your wings and exploring independence away from your family. If you’re like most college students, you probably don’t have the budget for fancy furniture or décor. However, there are a few items you shouldn’t overlook when setting up your college pad.

A Bookshelf
A bookshelf promises to be one of the most versatile pieces of furniture in your college apartment. It’ll hold your textbooks and favorite novels, obviously, but it’s also useful for stashing other items such as keys, phone, wallet, purse, ornaments, framed photographs, and random swag. Look for bookshelves with chests at the base for storing sheets, blankets, and towels.

A Work Desk and Chair
Yes the keggers and other social events are exciting, but (que violin) you’re at college to work. While campus libraries have space for studying, all those other students can be distracting. You’ll find studying for exams and completing assignments much easier with a desk at your disposal. Make sure it’s large enough for a computer, even if it’s just a laptop, and for spreading out notes and textbooks. Add a lamp and an ergonomic chair that supports your body during marathon study sessions to create a productive work zone.

A Comfortable Bed
Never underestimate the importance of a comfortable bed. Most college students get between six and 6.9 hours of sleep, less than the eight hours most health experts recommend. Therefore, it’s important to make sure every moment you’re in bed counts. A comfortable bed will help you sleep soundly, so you can retain information, think more clearly, and perform better. Add a statement duvet to keep you warm on winter’s nights and make your space feel more like home.

A Multicooker
It’s so easy to slip into bad eating habits while you’re in college. However, skipping meals and binging on takeout does your brain and your body no favors. You’ll find eating in easier with a multicooker. You needn’t spend a lot of money on this handy appliance that browns meat, slow-cooks casseroles and stews, makes hearty soups, cooks rice, and much more. Best of all, many multicooker functions are made for turning some of the cheapest ingredients into tasty dishes.


Some Wall Art

Wall art turns the apartment your college budget can afford into your own personalized space. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but it should speak to you and your personal style. You can find cheap canvases at home improvement and budget department stores. Local markets are also great places to find unique art for less. Alternatively, why not print and frame some of your favorite photographs?

These items don’t need to be the most modern or feature-packed. They don’t even need to be brand new. Thrift stores, garage sales, and online marketplaces can help you secure them for a fraction of their original retail prices. However, just make sure you don’t overlook them. All these items are essential for any college apartment.

Sometimes, that first semester of college doesn’t go quite as planned. Maybe you want to change your major, and a different school seems more suitable. You may need to move closer to home because of family obligations. Or, maybe your current college just doesn’t feel like a good fit. Whatever your reasons for transferring schools, there are steps you can take to make the transition less stressful. These four tips are a good place to start.


Know What’s Expected
You’ve likely already researched other colleges and found a couple that appeal to you. The next step is finding out exactly what they expect from you as a transfer student. The prerequisites for a program can differ from school to school. What sort of grades do you need? Do you need letters of recommendations from your professors? What are the application deadlines for each school?

The answers to these questions will determine your goals for the remaining year or semester. For example, you may need to spend more time studying to improve your grades, or you may want to get more involved on campus to improve your chances of acceptance.

Consider Prior Acceptances

If you received other acceptance letters when you first applied to college, take a look at those schools first. Do you still want to go to any of them? If so, you can contact them to see if you can transfer without reapplying. Depending on the school, you may not have to repeat the application process. Score! Just make sure it really is what’s best for you academically. Otherwise, you could find yourself in the same situation next year — unhappy and looking to change schools.

Talk to an Advisor
No matter how thoroughly you’ve researched your new school, it’s always a good idea to contact an academic advisor both at your current school and at your prospective school. The advisors can confirm which credits are transferable and which ones aren’t. Ask about articulation agreements: Having this type of arrangement helps the process go more smoothly.

It’s also a good idea to keep copies of your transcripts, syllabi, and course materials. In the event that one or more of your transfer credits are denied, you’ll need this paperwork to file an appeal. The more credits you can successfully transfer, the more time and money you’ll save.

Live on Campus
Even if you’ve lived on campus already and didn’t exactly love it, consider trying it again at your new school. Most of the people in your year have their groups of friends already. You’re starting from scratch, and making new friends will be easier if you stay in a dorm. You may find that you get along with your roommate quite well. If the idea of a roommate makes you shudder and you have a flexible budget, most colleges offer single-room options.

Starting over at a different college has its challenges. You can make the transfer less stressful, though, by planning ahead of time and getting involved in campus life.

Whether you’re a student considering a change, have yet to declare a major, or are just beginning your college search, knowing which degrees are the most viable in terms of potential income can help you make a wise decision. Check out this list of the college majors that offer the highest salaries after graduation.



Economics and Mathematics

With just a bachelor’s degree, young economists and mathematicians can earn about $60,000 per year. That amount can double after roughly a decade in the career force. This undergraduate degree is also an excellent springboard for doctoral studies in areas such as economics, business, and other niche subjects.

Marine Engineering

If you’re interested in marine vessels and structures, you can put your passion to work and enjoy a fantastic salary in your first years as a professional. Marine engineers can make more than $70,000 in their first five years on the job. That amount can increase to approximately $125,000 per year by the midpoint of your career.

Chemical Engineering
Chemical engineering, which mixes the disciplines of the physical sciences, life sciences, mathematics, and economics, also offers an enticing starting salary and enticing midcareer pay projections. Chemical engineers can also earn more than $70,000 when they start their career. After a decade of experience, they can expect to make more than $125,000 annually.

Nuclear Engineering
Nuclear engineers can make up to $70,000 per year in their early career and $128,000 by the midpoint of their career. Nuclear engineers also report high career satisfaction and feel their work has a positive impact on the world. These professionals apply the principles of nuclear physics to study and to manipulate nuclear energy and radiation.

Actuarial Science

Actuarial scientists can make roughly $60,000 within their first five years after graduation. That amount can more than double by the 10-year mark. Actuarial scientists explore how risk affects insurance, finance, and other fields.

Actuarial Mathematics
Actuarial mathematics is a more specialized field that also looks at risk through the lens of mathematics and statistics. Actuarial mathematics, however, focuses on insurance concepts. With a bachelor’s degree, you can expect to make about $57,000 in your early career. With about a decade of experience under your belt, you can pull in an annual salary of approximately $130,000.

Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineers enjoy a high starting salary and excellent midcareer pay. You can enter the career force immediately after receiving your bachelor’s and make roughly $95,000 in your first five years. Even if you complete a master’s or a Ph.D. in another field, you’ll find a hard time topping the first-year pay that a petroleum engineer receives.

These top-paying jobs all offer high starting salaries, solid potential for career growth, and excellent job security. You can start even at an entry-level position and enjoy these great benefits. Most high-paying jobs that just require a bachelor’s degree are in the engineering field, with actuarial mathematics and science also topping the list. Though the top-paying jobs in America are in the medical field, you can enter one of the above fields with just your undergraduate degree.

Ideally, you should be able to sell your old textbooks. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t work out that way. A new edition may have just come out, rendering your textbook obsolete. Perhaps you’re in a highly specialized field, and not many buyers are biting. Whatever the case, you have other options for reusing or re-purposing your old textbooks. Take a look at these three ideas.

Donate Online

If you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of websites that accept old textbooks. This donation method lets you get rid of your textbooks from the comfort of your home. The downside, however, is that most of these organizations only accept certain types of books.

Books for Africa accepts fiction and nonfiction books, whether they are hardcover or softcover. It accepts most college textbooks that have a 2002 or newer publisher date. Certain subjects — like law and medicine — must have a 2007 or newer publisher date. As its name suggests, this organization sends books to students in need in Africa.

Books Through Bars sends books to prison libraries. It accepts mostly paperbacks, and the most highly requested subjects include African-American studies, trade skills, small business, and urban fiction. If you would rather donate your books to soldiers, make sure to check out Books for Soldiers or Operation Paperback.

Donate Locally

Donating your textbooks to a local business or organization is a great way to help your community. It does involve lugging around a bag of heavy books, but you’re also more likely to get rid of them faster.

Try contacting the library to see if it accepts donations. In most cases, the staff will be happy to take your old textbooks off your hands, either to add to their bookshelves or to sell during fundraisers. You could also donate your books to a local thrift store or to charitable organizations like The Salvation Army.

Are you feeling ambitious? Go a step further, and collect other people’s used books so you can run your own book drive. Running this type of event would look great on your resume.

Upcycle Your Textbooks

Makers, crafters, and artists have come up with some really cool ways to repurpose old books, and they were kind enough to post instructions online. Do you have a nosy roommate? Try turning a textbook into a secret safe, or make a hidden drawer out of book spines. Do you like to show off your unique style? You can turn old books into jewelry, wallets, or even a tablet cover.

Other upcycle projects include book lamps, picture frames, headboards, wall art, and iPhone charging docks. If you get good enough, some of your pieces may even be sellable to other students on campus or through Etsy.

Your old textbooks don’t need to gather dust in a forgotten corner. You paid good money for them, so why not make the most of them? You can find an organization that wants your textbooks, or failing that, you can transform them into something fun and useful.