Much like life’s other important chapters, your college experience can slip by in a heartbeat. Once they’re gone, you can’t relive those precious moments, so making the most of it is just as important as getting good grades. College is also about personal development, which doesn’t always happen in the classroom. For the most rewarding time on campus, don’t forget to live a little, starting with this must-do college bucket list.

Speak Up and Be Heard

Universities, community colleges, and technical schools are hotbeds of intellectual reflection and expression. If you feel passionate about something while you’re going to school, get involved. Whether it’s volunteering your time for a good cause or speaking out at a demonstration, stepping up for what you believe in is part of the experience.

Travel and/or Study Abroad

We are all members of a global community, so international exposure is important to your personal and professional development. A semester exploring in another culture pays lifelong rewards, preparing you for diverse employment and expanding your worldview. Participating through a school-backed program gives you access to this once-in-a-lifetime experience for a fraction of the cost of doing it on your own. If a year or semester abroad is out of reach, check your school curriculum for shorter, immersive trips, which are sometimes offered for degree credit.

Join the Club

Participating in activities during college rounds out your work in the classroom, but it can also boost your social profile and create networking opportunities with like-minded students. Career clubs in particular can help young entrepreneurs and would-be business professionals make valuable contacts.

Get experience in your field: Take an internship

There is no substitute for on-the-job experience, so completing an internship will be helpful when you look for full-time work in your field. More importantly, some of these training positions come with a paycheck, bringing in bucks when you need them most. 

Show Your School Spirit

Attending a school sporting event or becoming a regular fan enriches your campus experience and fosters school pride. Participation in college sports is a great way to meet new people, and there’s no shortage of ways to show your spirit. 

Walk for Graduation

Talking this milestone walk is important for two reasons. First of all, congratulations, you did it! Walking at your ceremony also gives you a chance to share the occasion. You can be sure to invite your family and friends for your special day.  

As you prepare to enroll, a four-year commitment may seem like an eternity. But your college days are in the rearview mirror in a blink. Don’t miss your chance and have regrets later. Make the most of your college experience by participating in some of these campus activities.

Photograph by: JD Rome

To have a car, or not to have a car: that is the question. Classes have just begun, and you may be asking yourself if having a car will make life easier. For most of your peers, having a car on campus would be a dream come true, but there are a few disadvantages they may not have considered. But you want to be more knowledgeable and confident in knowing if having one on campus is right for you.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of car ownership to help you make a more informed decision.

Pros

Freedom to Explore

The college years are the perfect time for exploration. Discovering new places will be less challenging if you have your own set of wheels. If you want to go on a road trip with friends, the public transit system won’t get you there. However, having a car will give you the independence to discover new places on your own terms.

Convenience

Asking friends for a ride, waiting at the bus stop, or walking long distances on foot can get tiresome. With your own car, you’ll be able to go wherever you want without the need to cater to anyone else’s schedule. You’ll spend less time scrounging for a ride and more time focusing on the things that really matter, like reading your textbooks

Off-Campus Work

Most colleges offer work-study programs to help students cover tuition costs, but funding isn’t always available. Government funding restrictions leave hundreds of students looking for work off campus each year. If you own a car, the number of job opportunities available to you significantly increases. You’ll be more competitive and attractive to potential employers if you have reliable transportation.

Cons

Expenses

In 2014, Bankrate reported the average annual cost of owning a motor vehicle to be $2,300. The study results included costs for gasoline, insurance, and repairs. Expenses not included in the study were registration, taxes, and loan payments. As a college student, you’ll also need to pay parking fees to keep your car on campus. When factoring in the total costs, you could be responsible for over $5,000 worth of expenses each year.

Before purchasing a car on your own, talk with your parents. Discussing the financial details in advance could save you thousands of dollars down the line.

Friends Asking for Rides

Chauffeuring your friends around town could double your vehicle expenses. Acting as a volunteer taxi service for your friends isn’t smart for your sanity or your wallet. Before you know it, you’ll be shelling out much more money to cover the cost of gas and maintenance on your vehicle. Also, the constant distractions by your friends could negatively affect your productivity at school.

Car Accidents

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers have crash rates three times those of drivers 20 and older per mile driven. If you happen to have a fender bender at college, your insurance premium may increase. Furthermore, the mental stress of having a car accident could derail your ability to focus on your studies.  

When you consider the costs and risks of having a car on campus, maybe a bus pass doesn’t sound too shabby after all.

With the start of school fast approaching, you might be thinking about all the plans you were going to make and all the things you wanted to do over summer break. There’s still time! If you’ve already done everything on your list, we’ve got a few suggestions of fun things to do with your last bit of freedom.

Get Outside

No matter your style of music, it’s likely there’s an outdoor concert going on. Get outside, dance to the music, and meet some new friends as you jam together. Alternatively, you can pack a picnic to take to any outdoor event or even just a park. But don’t make it complicated! Your picnic can be as simple as picking up pre-made food from the grocery store or even takeout from your favorite place. The only requirement is to get outside, enjoy the weather, and spend time with friends.

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than a swimming hole. Go find the nearest body of water and relax. Whether it’s a pool, lake, or ocean, just go enjoy a refreshing day of swimming, water sports, or sunbathing with friends.

Have an Adventure

When you plan a road trip with friends, there’s no requirement to go far. Just get in the car, drive away from home, and take a few days to escape with your friends. Be sure to create some epic playlists for lip-syncing and pack plenty of delicious snacks. Consider a glamping trip with your friends. While the weather’s still nice outside, plan a fun camping trip with your friends that doesn’t include roughing it. Pack up your cars with all the comforts you could need, find a cozy campsite, and settle in for s’mores.

If camping isn’t your thing, get tickets for a sporting event you’ve never attended. You get bonus points if it’s outdoors. Summer’s a great time for baseball, and the games often finish with fireworks. If you’re worried about the ticket price, see if there’s a minor league team nearby.

Grow Your Skills

Summer is full of possibilities, but it often slips away quickly. What was your summer dream? You can still make it a reality. Maybe you wanted to start a YouTube channel, a blog, or just become a social media maven extraordinaire. Anyone can be an entrepreneur online. Start now before you have tests to study for and class to attend.

If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands, get fit. Whatever it is you like to do that’s active, go for it. Whether you’re trying to lose the freshman 15 or just look great for your new college friends, get out there and get moving. Maybe you just want to practice a new sport. Try doing yoga, stand-up paddle boarding, aerial silks, or kickboxing. There are so many options for fun things to do that are active.

No matter if you use one of these suggestions or not, just take some time to enjoy the last vestiges of summer before it’s time to buy your latest books and buckle down for the semester.

Student loan debt is no secret to the American public. Unfortunately, the financial crisis faced by millions of students is continuing to grow.

According to the PwC Employee Wellness Survey, 42 percent of millennial employees have student loan debt. Twenty-six percent of Gen-X employees have student debt, as well as 11 percent of baby boomer employees.

Total Student Debt in the U.S.

First of all, the state of student loan debt isn’t getting better. These figures continue to rise each year in the U.S. In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that 44 million Americans hold a debt that has hit $1.31 trillion.

Not quite sure how to comprehend that number? The total outstanding balance on American credit cards is just $779 billion.

Perhaps, this might put things in perspective: The entire economy of Russia is only slightly larger than the U.S. student loan debt, with their gross domestic product coming in at $1.33 trillion annually.

It’s VERY Unlikely That a Loan Is Forgiven

It’s a common misunderstanding among students that their student loans will be forgiven. We want to be clear that this is VERY unlikely. One more time: It’s extremely unlikely that your student loan debt will be forgiven, in part or in its entirety.

In reality, only 10 percent of people will see any portion of their student loans forgiven. To qualify for forgiveness, you must fit into a few narrow categories. Those are:

  1. Take a public service job for a long period of time.
  2. Teach in an underserved school district.
  3. Attend a college that closes while you’re in attendance or shortly after you graduate.
  4. Become permanently disabled.
  5. Die.

Those are all the options. That’s it. Hence, if you don’t fit into these categories, your student loan debt won’t be forgiven.

Fees, Fees, and More Fees

Changes are afoot in the U.S. Department of Education. The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era rule that forbade debt collectors from charging collection fees from defaulted borrowers if they begin paying within 60 days of defaulting.

For students who miss several payments in a row, debt collectors can charge fees as high as 16 percent. Additionally, these fees are levied against the entire outstanding loan balance and interest charges.

What Happens If I Default on My Federal Student Loans?

You’re not alone in asking this question. In 2016, 1.1 million federal student loans were in default according to the U.S. Department of Education.

A federal student loan goes into default after 270 days of missed payments. The consequences of that are:

  • The entire balance of the loan is immediately due.
  • You lose eligibility for deferment, forbearance, and flexible repayment plans.
  • You could face a loss of credit.
  • Your wages and tax refunds can be used for repayment.

If you’re periodically missing payments or have concerns:

  • Contact your loan provider as soon as you know there’s a problem.
  • You can ask for a forbearance.
  • Find out if you’re eligible for a flexible repayment plan.

If you’re already in default:

  • Ask for loan rehabilitation from your loan provider.
  • Have your default status lifted by making nine on-time payments within 10 months.

Taking on student loan debt and figuring out how to repay that debt are major choices that should take time and thoughtfulness to make.

A college degree looks fantastic on your resume, but many employers want more than a piece of paper that says you finished school —they want experience. But how can you gain experience when no one will hire you without it? Consider the following tips to help you become more competitive.

Show Off What You’ve Learned

Your resume might be short on experience, but you can exploit the experience you do have. Maybe that summer you spent working in a fast food restaurant taught you about teamwork and customer service. Perhaps you learned leadership skills through an extracurricular activity.

Drawing attention to your good character skills is valuable. One talent acquisition manager for Western Union said, “It’s much easier for companies to train their employees on technical skills versus core competencies like leadership skills, analytical abilities, motivation, ambition and problem-solving. These traits span multiple industries and functional areas.”

Volunteer

Are there any charities or nonprofit organizations in your chosen field that you could volunteer for? Volunteering will give you practical experience, and it will show potential employers that you have a sense of social responsibility.

One of the biggest perks of volunteering is that it is a golden opportunity for networking. You could meet professionals in your field whom you might be able to use as references on your next job application. Your contacts could even tell you about upcoming job opportunities and provide you with a glowing recommendation.

Research the Companies You’re Applying To

Chad Paris, CEO of Parisleaf, stated, “I want somebody to come in and tell me what they know about my company, not that I’m just another company that they’re interviewing with.” That said, when you’re writing a cover letter to a company, Google it and find out about its mission, size, and leadership team. When you go in for an interview, use what you learned to show that you’re interested in more than just getting a job. Show them you’re interested in working for that specific company.

Doing thorough research will also demonstrate to potential employers that you enjoy learning, a very valuable trait to potential employers.

Be Realistic and Patient

Some employers are unyielding on their experience requirement. Instead of wasting your time begging for a job, start looking elsewhere. When you have some experience under your belt, you can try again with the companies that interest you the most.

Be patient, and keep a positive attitude. A job may not fall into your lap right after you get your undergrad degree, but if you keep looking for employment, you will find it. Some campuses even have job placement services that can get you started. You can even look at other resources too, including online job boards.

Work experience is often one of the most desirable things to employers, but even without it, getting a good job is possible if you follow the above advice.

We’ve all heard we should fake it until we make it, but what happens when it feels like others aren’t seeing the real you? What happens when you’re convinced you’re not as smart as people think you are and not deserving of the praise you receive? It might surprise you to know you’re not alone. In fact, the problem is so common it even has a name: impostor syndrome. It’s a natural reaction to the pressure you feel to succeed, but there are ways to fight it and start believing in yourself.

 

Start Journaling

Writing down your thoughts will help you sort through them and find clarity.

When negative thoughts take over, reach for your journal. Write down everything you’re thinking and worrying about. Perhaps you feel you’re at college through luck rather than merit, that your research is pointless, and that soon everyone will figure out you don’t deserve your place. Get it all down, then tear out the page and rip it up. This process destroys those words and the power they have over you.

Negativity doesn’t deserve a permanent place in your journal, but positivity does. Note the good things that happen to you, the praise you receive, and the great grades you earn — no achievement is too small. Look back through your journal for positive reinforcement whenever you feel like a fake.

Start Tutoring

Tutoring is an excellent way to remind yourself of your skills. When you tutor, you’ll pass what you know, which reinforces how much knowledge you actually have. When you see your students achieving, you’ll share in that success. As your student base grows, your own confidence should too. After all, if you were really as inept as you believe, would people ask for your help?

Positive referrals are the best way to expand your student base, but they can initially be hard to come by. Leave your contact details with teachers and counselors at local schools. Advertise on Craigslist and create a simple website and social media pages. Ask family members and friends if they know anyone needing tutoring. Start small, and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Talk About It

It can be terrifying to consider opening up about your feelings, but there are some important reasons why you should. When you share your problems, you’ll stop feeling like they’re all on your shoulders. The people you open up to share some of the weight too, and they can help you through it.

Talk to trusted friends about the way you’re feeling. You might even discover they’re feeling the same way, which will make you feel less alone.

If you’re too scared to talk to your peers, then consider opening up to your academic advisor or a counselor. Your mentor is likely to recall a time that he or she struggled with similar doubts and what helped those feelings pass. Because counselors are trained to deal with problems like yours, they can listen to you impartially and suggest proven strategies to change your thinking.

Impostor syndrome can take a serious toll on your well-being, but with these strategies, you can stop feeling like a fake and start trusting yourself.

It might be tempting (with the high cost of going to college and the fear of student loan debt) for aspiring entrepreneurs to consider not going to college. However, there are many benefits of going to school and getting a degree, even for those who are entrepreneurially minded.

Build a Network

No matter whether you want to start a business or just become an employee, college is the place to build your network. In college, your network will expand exponentially as you meet new friends (did someone say potential co-founder?), get to know professors, intern with established businesses, and create connections with other professionals.

Build your network well, and your business will be off the ground running and fully funded before you know it.

Get Educated

Starting a new company is no easy feat, and there’s more to it than creating the next big tech invention. Start-ups need capital, a founder with business know-how, and a great product.

College classes can help you get the education you need through business or entrepreneurship classes or any field of study you like. Even if you’re not taking classes in a particular subject, you have access to student groups where you can gain knowledge.

Job Security

You never know where life will take you or what path you’ll choose to follow. Having a degree can remove roadblocks from the path and make traversing life just a little bit easier. A degree is something good to put on your resume that will encourage employers to hire you and trust your skills. It never hurts to have a fall-back plan as an entrepreneur.

Like-Minded People

Going to college will expose you to like-minded people to join your network. This happens in a few ways.

Most professors are academicians and researchers. This means they’re interested in the cutting-edge “what’s next”. There’s a lot of overlap between researchers and entrepreneurs. You’ll also be surrounded by young students, a fantastic population for testing out new ideas or products.

The access you have to these audiences while in college is access that’s given to no other group of entrepreneurs. Once you leave campus, accessing these groups becomes a little bit harder. As an alumnus of a college, you’ll have slightly more access than someone who didn’t go to college.

Great Resources

Attending a college gives you access to more than just human resources. You also have access to fast internet connections, a wealth of research knowledge, and other resources.

Part of your tuition goes to fund your access to these resources, so you might as well use them often!

All these benefits make the cost of college worth it for those who are interested in starting their own businesses. You can’t be an entrepreneur in a vacuum, and college can give new entrepreneurs benefits such as resources, networks, and the knowledge necessary to successfully start their dream businesses.

Around 26.4 percent of 16- to-19-year-olds and 18.4 percent of 20- to-24-year-olds are active community volunteers, according to the most recent research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet many college students forget to mention this important experience when applying for jobs. In fact, less than a third of all job seekers mention unpaid work on their resumes. Don’t underestimate the value of volunteering! These are the reasons you should mention any community service on your resume.

Volunteering Teaches You Vital Career Skills

Volunteering teaches new skills and helps you hone existing ones. You might pick up job-specific skills, such as how to prepare food or update social media channels, as well as more general skills transferable to any role such as working as part of a team and managing your time effectively. Ninety-two percent of interviewers recognize that volunteering builds leadership skills, according to research from professional services firm Deloitte.

While employers slightly favor candidates with experience that relates to their positions, any volunteering work is valuable. Whatever you take from working in a real-world environment, your prospective employer will want to know about it.

Volunteering Helps You Beef Up Your Resume

At your tender years, you probably don’t have much paid work experience. You might have held a summer job at a fast-food restaurant or worked part-time at your local mall at best. However, even these aren’t likely to impress a potential employer. Noting your volunteering experience helps to separate you from the rest of your classmates by showing you have more to offer. This is especially important when you have little to no paid-work experience.

Volunteering Reflects Well On Your Character

Without money as an incentive, people do it for a variety of deeper reasons. Perhaps you volunteered to become more job-ready or make industry contacts. You might have been motivated by a desire to help others or your community. Whatever drove you to volunteer, you’ve displayed the sort of energetic, can-do attitude employers love. In fact, 82 percent of interviewers told Deloitte they prefer job applicants who have volunteered. Failing to mention your volunteering experience on your resume is failing to seize the opportunity to show you could be a valuable asset to any workplace.

Volunteering Gives an Insight Into Your Interests

When you take a paid job as a college student, you are probably happy to accept almost anything that comes with a paycheck. Deciding where to volunteer is likely to be a more personal choice. You might spend time reading to the elderly because you’re interested in working in aged care or volunteer at an animal rescue because you’re passionate about pets. Whatever your choices, noting your volunteer experience on your resume will help a potential employer get to know you better before the interview stage.

Volunteering might not be paid work, but it provides valuable experience any employer will want to know about. Remember to list your volunteering work and achievements proudly alongside any paid work on your resume.

Do you remember visiting your local library as a kid? Or maybe the touring book fair that came to your elementary school library? As children, most of us got a lot of joy from reading and excitement in finding the next great book.

In college, some of your passion might subside because you’re reading denser, required material. You’re likely reading books for your literature classes, articles for your history classes, and journals for your science classes. This type of reading can be a drag.

But, it’s possible to bring that delight for reading and love for the public library back. Public libraries are still free and lending out books. It’s time to get a card to find better prices on schoolbooks and rediscover the joy of reading for fun.

Entertainment

Your local library isn’t just about paper books anymore. Most public libraries have joined the technological age and offer e-books and audiobooks that are free to rent. The best part? You don’t even have to go to the physical library to check them out. You can do so online!

This could be great for your fiction reading but also for your required college reading. You might be surprised just what books your local library has in stock.

Price Shopping

When you’re looking to buy textbooks, you want the best deal. CampusBooks has designed a way to help you out with that. When you use the price comparison tool on our website, you can compare the price of textbooks rented from your local public library with the best prices out there. Can you imagine the money you’d save by renting your textbooks for free from the local library?

We want to make sure that you get the best deal on textbooks. College is expensive enough, so you don’t want to spend more money than you have to.

Services Other Than Books

College is an adventure in learning “how to adult” for the first time. Part of becoming an adult means that there are tasks and errands you’ll need to take care of that you may not know how to.

Surprisingly, your public library might be just the resource you need. After all, it’s not just a repository for old, musty books. The local public library in your college town might also offer services such as notary, help with research, passport applications (taking a summer break trip out of the country?), information for filing taxes, resume evaluation, and help with technology or computers. The librarians will also be able to help you find these resources in the broader community if they aren’t offered by the library.

Archives Research

College students do a lot of research, especially when writing a thesis or capstone. You might find yourself in need of (gasp!) resources for your research that aren’t available online. Public libraries often have extensive hard-copy archives that contain everything from newspaper clippings to building plans to oral histories. You won’t know what’s there in the archives until you ask.

We hope that we revitalized your interest and desire to have a public library card. The public library is a wonderful resource for books to read for fun and for discounted or even free textbooks for college classes.

There’s three months of summer break ahead and plenty of time to travel for fun and for education and to make some of that travel international. Maybe you’ve never had a passport before or maybe you have and it’s expired. Either way, now is the time to get that document on file, up to date, and in hand.

Getting Your Passport

Applying for a passport usually takes about 6-8 weeks from start to finish. If you have this time or more before you leave on your trip, you have nothing to worry about.

  • Getting Your First Passport: You’ll need to apply in person at a local office or online. Many US Post Offices serve as these facilities and they can even take your regulation photo there.
  • Renewing an Expired/Expiring Passport: If your document has expired or it will expire within three to six months (depending on where you’re going) of your departure date, you need to renew it. You can renew by mail or online at the U.S. Department of State website. The online application process is simple and will walk you through the steps, making sure you’re eligible for online application at every step of the way.

Getting It Fast

In a hurry because your trip departs in fewer than six weeks? No worries, but you will have to get an expedited renewal. You can get your passport expedited online or at a passport office for an extra charge. Online, you’ll pay an extra $60 fee for expedited service.

In a rush but have time to do a mail renewal? Cool. You can also expedite the process by paying for overnight mail delivery. You can send your renewal forms in via overnight delivery and have them sent back similarly fast. Paying for overnight delivery doesn’t expedite the processing of your renewal, but it does expedite the mailing speed.

Getting It Really Fast

If your departure is fewer than three weeks away, you’ll need to visit a passport center to get your document in enough time. Search online for the nearest office, collect the necessary paperwork, and find out if you need an appointment and you’ll be well on your way to getting your passport as quickly as possible. Provided that you arrive with all documentation and a passport photo, you may be able to get your new ID within the week or possibly even the same day for a renewal.

Should there not be a local office near where you live, you can also call the National Passport Information Center 24 hours a day for help. They can answer any question you might have about documentation and international travel.

Expediters

There are companies that claim to expedite the process, but most of these companies are not trustworthy to follow through with their promises. On top of that, they charge outrageous prices for their services. Beware!

If you find yourself in a need of expedited procurement or renewal, the government offers many resources to help you. Be sure to stay calm, ask questions politely, and follow directions as closely as possible. You’ll be on your way overseas before you know it.

Remember that even if you don’t have travel on the horizon, a passport is an invaluable form of ID to possess.