The coronavirus pandemic has inspired panic and confusion across the higher education landscape, with canceled exams, final performances, and graduation ceremonies. College students have been evicted with little notice. School leaders are scrambling to triage students and accommodate the resources needed. The information available is overwhelming and not always accurate. Here are some actionable steps and advice amidst the chaos.


Moving out

Many students learned about the campus closures at the same time as administrators, creating a whirlwind of questions with few concrete answers. Be patient, and share resources when possible (but not your vape pens, please). Some students have pooled together to rent storage lockers; others with residences close to campus have offered to store belongings for those from out of state. Many students rely on financial aid and campus resources, and travel costs can be daunting, as can securing consistent meals. This public health crisis has only emphasized the socioeconomic divide in higher education. Some schools are reimbursing student travel costs; others are providing takeout meals. Keep communicating with school officials for updates on everything from health care to dining halls and shelter. Stay informed of recommended safety measures while you adjust to the unknowns of these closed campuses.

Learning from home (or a friend’s couch)

Institutions have moved their courses online. Most universities have offered virtual coursework and degree programs for years, so students can expect an effective substitute for their on-site academic counterparts. But without the desks and equipment, and with the sudden flexibility, especially if you’re easily distracted or rely on more kinesthetic classroom experiences, virtual learning can create barriers. It’s important to cultivate a learning space and engage in the online class discussion. Print off slides and lectures. Take notes during presentations. Develop virtual classroom strategies that will keep you accountable. And, just like you would on campus, leave the hard seltzer in the fridge until after class.

Making it a staycation

Spring break is looking a whole lot different this year. Instead of packing bikinis and sunblock, college students around the United States are preparing for a long-term hiatus at home (if a home is available). Having wrapped up midterm season, you deserve a break. Get creative with the resources you have. Look up some at-home face mask recipes. Give yourself a luxurious pedicure. Pick up a book you’ve been eager to read. Take a walk around the neighborhood or at a local park. Find ways to enjoy the break in your routine.

Maintaining hygiene

It may sound redundant at this point, but amidst the stress and the unknowns, make sure to take care of yourself. Take your time cooking healthful meals, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice as you wash your hands. There’s still a very real risk for the regular flu and sinus infections, and the clinic is the last place you want to be right now.

Many students rely on universities for safe shelter, social stability, meals, and mental health support. Help one another. Make time to call and check in on your friends. Share your own tips and tricks as you navigate the next few weeks. The campus community shouldn’t suffer just because you’re not on campus.

You’ve heard your fair share of college-health adages: “Avoid the freshmen 15,” “Don’t accept drinks from strangers,” “Wear protection!” Nonetheless, as new viruses evolve and old ones reemerge, adopting good hygiene is essential to preventing sickness in college. Of course, in 2020 the novel coronavirus is a new disease that is spreading rapidly around the world. In 2019, universities in New York, New Jersey, and California saw outbreaks of meningitis, prompting states to reevaluate mandatory vaccinations for incoming students. In 2018, Dartmouth and Johns Hopkins both battled multiple cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease on campus.

In England, mumps cases have reached their highest in a decade. There are plenty of basic precautions you can take — make sure you wash your hands and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. And use hand sanitizer often, especially if you’ve interacted with others who are sick. In particular, dormitories, with their high student populations and shared resources, provide a perfect home for all sorts of nasty germs. Masks are generally unnecessary, unless you are sick they help prevent the spread of germ droplets when you cough or sneeze. So, in between classes, clubs, football games, and parties, dedicate some time for dorm room cleanliness. Below are some of the top — and often neglected — tips.

Laundry Day

A recent study revealed that male-populated rooms have six times the number of bacteria as their female counterparts. Moreover, the germiest hotspots in the average male dorm room are the bedsheets. Mom doesn’t live on campus, gentlemen. Washing sheets, pillowcases, and other machine-washable bed linens will make a major hygienic impact on your everyday life. Most institutions offer affordable, large-scale washers and dryers on campus, typically within each dormitory. If not, local laundromats aren’t too far. Best practice suggests washing linens once a week.

Lose Last Season’s Lipstick

Old makeup, not to mention the brushes and accessories, hosts all kinds of bacteria. Take care to wash makeup applicators and brushes — those fibers and sponges are porous, which keeps bacteria lodged in them. Replace makeup every few months. And while your roommate’s glitter lip gloss may intrigue you, avoid sharing makeup. Generally, bathroom items, whether makeup, toothbrushes, loofahs, or hair accessories, should be replaced more frequently than you might think!

Sanitize Everything

Think bathroom doorknobs, desks, iPhones, keyboards, you name it. Whether you have roommates or frequent guests, sanitizing shared surfaces is essential to maintaining good dorm health. Clean thoroughly and often. Keep an eye out for mold in the bathroom or other moist spaces.

Flip Your Mattress

You may wish to avoid the thought, but you’re likely not the first student to sleep on that dorm mattress. While popular memory-foam mattresses today are meant for one orientation, traditional spring mattresses require a 180-degree flip a few times a year. In warmer climates especially, this is important to prevent mold and increase airflow.

Take Out the Trash

It’s one of the worst chores, but also one of the most imperative. Garbage is a magnet for bacteria-carrying insects, like roaches and flies. Most institutions have trash and recycling centers in or nearby dorms. Dorm rooms are small enough as it is. Avoid the smell and the bugs and take out your trash at least once a week.

By following these simple personal hygiene and etiquette tips, you could save yourself alot of hassle by staying healthy and preventing diseases from spreading on campus.

Today’s college students are no stranger to technology; most have had a laptop, iPhone, or iPad in their hands since before they could walk. But interestingly, rather than choosing the more modern (and often cheaper) digital textbook option, students are leaning toward purchasing the hard copy version. While this may be on-brand with the hipster chic style of many college attendees — think large glasses, retro cardigans, and scrunchies — what other explanations exist? Digital copies take up less space, are easier to update, and dramatically save paper. But college students continue to choose the hefty, hard-backed tome. Why are print textbooks better?

Fewer Distractions

The internet offers users an infinite pool of distractions: social media, movies and television shows, online shopping, and targeted advertising. College students using a digital textbook are only one click away from a rabbit hole of Facebook comments and photos. A five-minute study break becomes an hour of scrolling and direct messaging. Students will be less tempted to check their Instagram account when turning pages outside of the familiar digital medium.

Used and Resale Options

Thrifty students will appreciate the ability to buy hard copy textbooks secondhand, perusing the different used book options in their campus bookstores and online. More importantly, students can sell back paper textbooks at the end of each semester, scoring some extra cash. Physical books can be saved forever if desired; printing is an ancient technology over 5000 years old. and Digital versions don’t offer the same options and flexibility.

Better comprehension

Whether dog-earring important pages, scribbling notes in the margins, or highlighting key passages, paper textbooks offer students a more hands-on learning experience. These reading strategies can improve comprehension of the material. A 2013 USA Today study demonstrated students retain less when reading on a screen. Moreover, some students may appreciate the aesthetic value of textbooks on their bookshelves, especially for those pursuing careers in academia.

Reliability

Computers need to be charged and can become damaged. Campus libraries may not always have available computers. In busy college towns, finding an available outlet in a café is less likely than winning the lottery. Hard copy books, however, are always available, and can withstand spilled coffee and power outages.

Overall Learning Experience

Research shows that students learn better from print than from digital copies of textbooks. In general, reading a large amount of material from a screen lends to lower learning comprehension — not to mention the potential eye strain and consequences on sleep from too much screen time. Certain studies suggest that scrolling has a disruptive effect on comprehension. And while reading digitally may increase speed, student performance tends to suffer when reading from a digital textbook. Overall, while some digital learning tools may be effective, in general old fashioned print textbooks will always retain a place in the college students’ learning toolbox.

2020 College Resolutions


A New Decade, a Fatter Wallet!

The new year clears the slate for all those 2019 regrets. College students return rested after the holiday break just in time for a fresh semester with new classes and professors. But looming over that shiny optimism is a very real student debt problem; in 2017, students graduating from public four-year universities left with an average $26,900 in debt–and that number keeps rising. While this problem is no doubt daunting and overwhelming for many students, there are some great money saving strategies for the new year.

Ride a Bike!

More and more college campuses are increasing their sustainable transportation options. Ditch the car and opt for a swanky bike helmet instead. Public access to bikes, scooters, and buses is a growing trend. College students can sometimes benefit from free bus passes and other perks. Maintaining a car on campus means parking, gas, insurance, and repairs. Research what transportation options are available near campus. Companies like ZipCar and Uber offer ride-share options for the times when a car is more necessary, like bad weather and heavy groceries.

Pay Attention to Credit Cards.

It’s smart to start building credit, but those credit cards can quickly turn around and bite. Make sure to manage credit card balances and pay off more than is spent each month. Interest rates and late fees can quickly add to the balance, so students should read the fine print before signing up. They should take advantage of travel points and rewards when they can. Using these wisely can pay for a flight home or to a spring break destination.

Find a Part-time Job.

Students are busy no doubt. But a part-time job can help pay for small bills without taking up too much time. Many on-campus jobs work around class schedules and are flexible for exams and study needs. Restaurants and coffee shops often need extra hands. Help conduct research with a paid assistantship. Complete surveys online. Dog-sit. Scoop ice cream. Millennials are masters of the side hustle.

Eat Smart!

Colleges are hot spots for free food–it’s just about knowing how to find it. Attend events offering free food, bring student IDs to restaurants and ask about discounts, and try to save dining out for special occasions.

Above all, understand and prepare for future student debt payments. Use campus resources for free financial planning and budgeting. Calculate future monthly payments (including interest). Mastering these tips will build helpful financial habits to better tackle student loan debt in the future. Take control in 2020!

Spotting a Counterfeit Textbook

Counterfeit textbooks are a growing problem in higher education. The expanding online marketplace parallels an increase in third-party booksellers, increasing the risk of pirated materials. College students and other book buyers must learn to navigate the ever-complicated landscape and avoid purchasing counterfeit copies.

What’s the problem?

Major textbook companies suffer a significant economic impact from counterfeit copies accounting for tens of millions in lost revenue in an already struggling industry. But why should students avoid these fake but cheaper products?, For one thing, buyback companies will quickly spot a counterfeit, so you will not be able to sell used textbooks. Attempting to sell counterfeit textbooks, even by accident, can lead to costly lawsuits for bookstores and compromise individual membership on certain websites, like Amazon. Furthermore, pirated versions lack the quality control required by publishers, leading to typos, low-quality images, and even missing pages which could be a huge hassle for you as you cram for that midterm.

What to look for

So, what should you look for? While a low sticker price may be tempting for strapped college students, if the copy costs far less than identical versions, it is likely a fake; shop around to determine what the average price range is before choosing the cheapest option. Counterfeits tend to possess a number of aesthetic problems such as thin or discolored paper and substandard cover art. Keep an eye out for fuzzy barcodes as well. You can also look for the seal, a new anti counterfeit book standard that allows you to scan a book with your phone to see if it’s legit. Finally, research where the book ships from; fake copies typically move through third-party sellers in China and India.

Conclusion

For many college students, semester textbook requirements pose a financial burden; counterfeiters take advantage of this, and the problem is growing. Students have more and more options to save on textbook purchases, but it requires time and a buyer’s savvy to navigate the market. Make sure to take a little extra time and research the books you’re buying. Is the barcode visible? Is the binding secure? Does the print quality look cheap? Do some research, shop around, and don’t let price be the main factor for your purchase.

The 2019 results are in! College students spent 23% less on textbooks than in the previous year. Once the holiday festivities have ended and the glitter has been swept off the floor, you can start the new semester with even more savings. Make sure to stay on trend, and ring in the new year with these textbook buying tips:

Talk to Professors

College professors have access to resources typical students don’t. Talk to them. See which books on the syllabus have older editions that will suffice for their class. If cost is an issue, ask if they know of other textbook options. Sometimes professors receive copies for free from textbook companies, and they may have one to spare. Be ahead of the curve. When you know your instructors for the next semester, e-mail them ahead of time and get the jump on textbook buying and borrowing before the back-to-school rush.

Rent (but Return!)

Don’t want to buy that French book for a mandatory foreign language course that you’ll never use again? Rent it instead. Renting textbooks can be more affordable than purchasing them. Be sure to read the fine print and be mindful of late fees, however. Missing the due date for textbook returns, even by a few days, can cause them to accumulate serious fines.

Go Online

Renting or purchasing electronic versions of textbooks is often a cheaper alternative for students. Unfortunately, online resources come with their own level of risk. Be mindful of viruses and other forms of malware when digitally downloading textbook files. To avoid problems, make sure to install antivirus software and keep your other software up to date on your computer and other electronic devices.

Visit the Library

The campus library should be the first stop on your textbook buying journey. Check out the library’s online databases for hard copies or digital versions of your textbooks. Often, professors will at least put copies on reserve for in-library use. You can also see if editions of your textbook are available via interlibrary loan.

Buy Used

Used textbooks can save students serious cash. Hit the online hubs and campus bookstores early to find the best deals.

Subscribe

In the past couple of years, some textbook publishing companies have started offering subscription services. College students can pay one affordable semester fee that allows unlimited access to digital course materials, including many textbooks.

Sell Back Last Semester’s Books

Are there any books from last semester lying around your dorm room? You can squeeze a few dollars out of each book you don’t intend to keep. If campus bookstores don’t want your textbooks back, go online. In addition, note if campus bookstores and websites offer guaranteed buy-back options that ensure a specific upfront price for returned products.

Once you’ve lived away from your parents, your old home (and perhaps hometown) feels different. You’ve changed, your friends from high school have probably changed, and you may even find that your bedroom has been converted to a guest room. Things may not be the same as you remember, but you can definitely still enjoy yourself while you’re home for the holidays. Just follow these holiday survival tips.

Expect Rules at Home

You’re used to living by your own rules. You can stay out as late as you want without telling anyone. You can sleep in late, eat cereal for dinner, have friends over until 3 a.m. — the list goes on and on. Now you’re under your parents’ roof again, and they may not be so keen on your new habits. At the very least, they’ll want to know (or try to tell you) what time you’ll be home by.

As tough as it is to relinquish your freedom, remember that your folks get to make the rules in their own home. Talk to them ahead of time. Do they still want you to have a curfew? Do they mind if you eat all the food in the cupboard? Knowing what your parents expect can help you avoid unpleasant surprises during your visit. Also, taking the time to ask about (and follow!) their rules shows them that you’re responsible. Doing chores is another way to win brownie points. Hopefully, in time, they’ll treat you more like an adult.

Be Prepared for Questions

You may be asked a barrage of questions, especially if you have extended family visiting. What do you plan to do when you graduate? Who do you hang out with? Are you seeing anyone? What happened to that last boy you were dating? Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with intrusive questions, but if they do come up, you can redirect the subject to something like the Ultimate Frisbee team you just joined.

Ask About Your Old Bedroom

While some parents like to keep their child’s room the same, even once they’ve grown up and moved away to college, others seem to have long awaited this moment. They now get to finally have a craft or exercise room. This isn’t the type of thing you want to find out the moment you open your old bedroom door. Before you go home, ask about any major changes your family made around the house.

Make Time for Old Friends

One of the best parts of visiting home — aside from the free, homecooked meals — is seeing your friends from high school. It’s a good idea to make plans in advance, especially if any of you work part-time during the holidays. Try not to feel too surprised if you see a noticeable difference in any of your friends. This is a time of change for all of you!

Visiting your family for the holidays can be a bit stressful, but seeing everyone again is worth it. Try following these tips, and it should ease the transition.

College students have much to consider when purchasing textbooks. Should you rent or buy? Should you get your books new or used, in print or digital? Will you keep the textbooks or sell them back to recover some of your costs?

As the traditional campus bookstore evolves into an online marketplace, college students and book buyers must now ask themselves another question: is this book even real? Fake online bookstores and counterfeit books have become a growing concern in the textbook industry. Publishers and major booksellers are cutting ties with these merchants and even pursuing legal action against them. Fake books cost the industry tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue, and students also should avoid these pirated products.

Counterfeit books use lower quality materials, are frequently missing pages, and cannot be sold back at the end of the semester. Moreover, some online stores will simply steal students’ money. Buyers must be wary because those hunting for a bargain are getting scammed instead. Some students have reported seeing a flyer on-campus advertising a cheap textbook website. Then, after making textbook purchases with their credit cards, they never receive the books.

Luckily, there are ways to spot the fakes: Thoroughly read all unfamiliar websites; look for the grammar and spelling mistakes or poor organization that tend to indicate a website put together haphazardly to make a quick buck. Check that the address and phone numbers listed for the company are real. Take advantage of search tools such as those on the Better Business Bureau website to find out if there have been complaints filed against the company. Check domain names and read the return policies thoroughly. Also, if possible, read customer reviews and ratings.

As the college textbook industry expands, so do possible scams. Although time and money are often limited resources for college students, it’s imperative that you use due diligence when purchasing your textbooks to avoid future problems.

After months of filling out paperwork, writing essays, gathering test scores, and mailing applications, there’s one more hurdle to your college admissions process: interviews. Colleges and programs that require interviews use them to assess you as an individual and determine if you’re a good fit. You’re likely to get nervous in the days leading up to your interviews, but some preparation can help you build confidence and equip you for success. Follow these tips to nail this leg of the college admission process.

Prepare

From the clothes you wear to the questions you have about the university, it’s vital that you prepare for the interview. Follow these steps to ensure you’re prepared:

Pick your outfit: Your clothes will help you make a good first impression. They’ll also show that you’re serious about attending the school. Approach the college interview process with the same professionalism that you give to job interviews.

Research the college: Perform additional research beyond what you did when applying to schools. Learn as much as possible about the college to ensure you’re informed during the interview.

Draft some questions: The interview is a chance for the university to determine if you’re a good fit. But it’s also a time for you to decide if you really want to attend. If any questions come to mind during your research, write them down. If you can’t find answers online, ask them of your interviewer. You should also ask any questions that will help you decide if the college is a good fit for you.

Update and Study Your Resume

Next, review your resume. If you have anything to add to it, do so before leaving to visit your colleges. Many interviewers start the conversation by going over your resume or asking that you walk them through it. Be prepared to expand on the points in that document and discuss any achievements that you’re especially proud of or that are particularly relevant to the college or program you’re applying to.

Practice

Practice answering some basic questions that you’re likely to encounter during the interview, like “Tell me more about yourself” and “Why are you interested in this college?” You should also practice being polite, smiling, not rambling, and providing answers that highlight your strengths or interest in the university.

Arrive on Time

Arriving late will start your interview off on the wrong foot and make a poor first impression. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive promptly, and look up or ask for directions ahead of the interview. Aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early to give a good first impression and give yourself time to gather your thoughts, take a breath, and begin your interview with confidence.

Follow Up

A day or two after your visit, write a thank-you note to reiterate your interest in the university and your appreciation for the interest in you. This is a good practice that will help you stand out from other applicants.

College interviews can be intimidating, but they’re an excellent opportunity to show your strengths and let your personality shine through. Practice the tips above to give the best possible impression and ace your interviews.

The cost of higher education can create barriers for young adults seeking a college degree. Textbooks, for example, pose a significant challenge to a struggling student’s finances. Concerns about these costs have led students and faculty to seek alternative ways to obtain books and other study materials. Free articles online and material from the library are part of the solution. However, purchasing traditional college textbooks remains a centerpiece of academia.


Planned Obsolescence

With teachers often requiring the newest textbooks with the most up-to-date information and add-ons, older editions become obsolete. Therefore, to keep up with reading assignments, students must often either purchase new textbooks outright or look for alternatives. These textbooks often come with a hefty price tag and few options for selling them once a class is completed; therefore, thrift-minded students are often forced to turn to online textbook rental sites to hunt for deals.

Market Consolidation

The merger of college textbook publishers McGraw Hill and Cengage has the higher education community questioning the companies’ motives as well as the consequences for students’ wallets—namely, higher book prices. With a limited number of companies in the textbook market, the McGraw Hill-Cengage merger consolidates power and further limits the opportunities for competitive pricing. McGraw Hill and Cengage claim the merger will expand textbook access and affordability. However, student advocates question the true goals of these industry leaders, especially given the fact that textbook prices actually have been decreasing over the past two decades.

Digital and Rental

McGraw Hill and Cengage have expanded their rental and digital catalogs to increase student options. Costs, however, are still high, and the digital market garners the additional benefit of collecting data on students and their purchasing habits. Even though Cengage offers a subscription service, its collection is too limited to provide all of the titles students need for their coursework. The option of renting books reduces a student’s financial outlay, but it requires that the books are returned at the end of each semester. Moreover, since digital materials cannot be re-sold or shared, the flow of textbooks into the used book market is diminished when students rent their textbooks.

Bottom Line: Not Going to help reduce prices

Students need textbooks and other academic materials to succeed. Despite the claims of McGraw Hill and Cengage about their merger, it does raise serious concerns about students being able to afford the textbooks they need. Although the merger offers some cost-effective options for students, it is likely to drive up prices and undermine the used book industry, which often provides cheaper options for students. In a larger sense, the merger is yet another example of how education has become increasingly commodified.