Your parents might still picture you as their little one all dressed up as one of the then-fashionable Disney characters and toting a plastic jack-o’-lantern filled with sugary treats, but you’re in college now and you want to have age-appropriate Halloween fun. Here are some ways in which you can have fun, stay safe, enjoy treats, and avoid tricks.

Find Your Best Options

In the days leading up to Halloween, the campus organizations that host Halloween parties and events will post flyers and online notices to advertise their events. When something catches your eye, make a mental note to consider it for Halloween night. As the day gets closer, review all your options and choose one (or more!) that sound most appealing. You might want to spend Halloween with a group or organization you have joined on campus. If you’ve gone Greek, for instance, you’ll probably attend your house’s party (or a related house’s event).

Throw Your Own Party

If you want to design the festivities yourself, consider collaborating with your suite-mates and hosting your own bash. Just check with your RA and make sure to follow any rules. If you want to make fast friends and secure your status as the go-to guy or girl for parties, make your Halloween bash as unique as possible. Come up with a Halloween theme such as the zombie apocalypse or a murder-mystery game. Plan the details like food, beverages, and contests with your pals. Don’t overspend. Focus on the friends and fun rather than breaking the bank on decorations and props.

Design Your Own Costume

You can always hit the local big-box store or party shop to find a ready-made Halloween costume, but where’s the fun in that? Exercise your college-educated creativity and make your own costume. Put a twist on a traditional costume idea or come up with something that represents your personality or favorite things. If you’re feeling like you’ve been in a rut lately, consider stepping outside your comfort zone with a wacky or daring costume that shows your friends that you’re anything but predictable. And don’t be afraid to turn to current events for inspiration. Halloween 2015 is just begging for guys to put on a suit and rock the double comb-over in order to go as Donald Trump.

Stay Safe Out There

When you were little, your parents warned you about taking candy from strangers, they reminded you to stay in a group, and they urged you to come home before it got too dark. Now that you’re in college, don’t drop your guard. People can get a little crazy on Halloween so you’ll want to avoid events that look conducive to making bad decisions or are hosted by organizations or individuals with bad reputations. Stick with your friends all night and watch out for each other. Nothing ruins a fantastic Halloween night like an actual brush with danger.

Keep It Casual

If Halloween creeps up on you and you find that you don’t have any plans, you might want something low-key and easy. Consider watching horror movies in your dorm room with friends or invite your pals over to tell ghost stories or decorate Halloween cookies. You don’t have get in full-on dressed-up party mode to enjoy the spirit (ahem) of the holiday.

Remember that college is the perfect time to release your inner child on Halloween. You might not trick-or-treat around the neighborhood but college campuses offer excellent alternatives. Plus, no parents to make you pace your candy consumption.


The financial decisions you make in college can impact the rest of your life. You have at least some financial independence and you’ll be creating habits that last well beyond college. If you want to start your post-graduation life on the right foot, follow these tips to help you make sound financial decisions in college.

Keep Track of Your Cash

Sign up for a bank account that offers online access, gives free checking and a debit card, offers plenty of ATMs, and doesn’t charge a lot of fine-print fees. Check your balance daily to track changes and set up account alerts so you’ll know if your balance dips below a certain threshold or if the bank notices suspicious activity. Learn to balance your checkbook, too, and do it immediately after every transaction lest you forget to enter something and find yourself overdrawn later. It’s a more active way to track your activity than just checking numbers on a computer screen and it forces you to think about every payment you make.

Start Saving Now

When you apply for a checking account at a physical bank or one that is online, open a savings account at the same time. Every month, transfer a few dollars into that account and forget about it unless you encounter an emergency. Over time, it’ll become second nature to sock away cash in preparation for the proverbial rainy day. Look into savings accounts that require no/low monthly balance and accrue some interest.

Be Honest With Yourself

If you know you’ll run up the balance on a credit card as soon as you call the number on the back to activate it, say “no” to credit until you get older. Opening a credit card and using it wisely can help you build a credit history, but not if you can’t handle the temptation that comes with “buy now, pay later.” The same goes for other financial commitments. Sure, you want a new car, but can you really afford the payments? Force yourself to wait seven days from the moment you decide you want to make a big purchase. Think about the potential fallout before you sign on any dotted lines.

Stay In/Scale Down

You’d rather hit the town with your friends than lock yourself in your dorm room to study, but if your cash situation won’t support the cost, decline the invitation. Create traditions with your college friends that don’t require anyone to spend money. Organize a movie night in your dorm rather than going to the movie theater, host a potluck rather than going out to eat, and get creative with having fun on a budget. And trust us, that $5 mocha latte tastes much better when it’s a once-a-week treat rather than a daily norm.

Look For Discounts

No matter what you buy, look for ways to save money. Can you go online to find cheaper textbooks or download a coupon for your favorite clothing store? Does that museum you want to visit over winter break offer a student discount on admission? Each time you shop the clearance rack or swipe a coupon, you put money in your wallet and set up great financial habits. Wherever you go and whatever you buy, ask if there is a student discount. Often there is but it’s not well publicized.

Seek More Financial Aid

Each time a semester ends, you can apply for new financial-aid options that might reduce your financial commitment next term. If you can avoid student loans while you gain your education, you’ll graduate with less debt and better prospects. Visit your college’s student-services office to ask for help. And remember that the better your grades, the better your chances for scholarships.

Have fun during your college years, but don’t give your bank account an unnecessary workout in the process. Instead, take time to think through spending decisions and use available resources to save money whenever possible. When in doubt, err on the side of saving and caution and always ask “Do I really need this?” before buying.

While spring break gets most of the attention, you don’t have to spend fall break huddled up in your dorm room with your nose in a book. It’s called a study break for a reason — it’s an opportunity to clear your head, de-stress, and indulge with your friends. If you’re planning a fall-break trip, consider one of these epic destinations.

New York City

If you can’t wait to cut loose over fall break but you don’t want the complete absence of cerebral pursuits, New York City offers the perfect combination of entertainment and education. Spend your days visiting the city’s amazing museums or touring the impressive art galleries, then get dressed up at night for the theater or a few of Manhattan’s hottest clubs. Book an inexpensive hotel room and share it with a few friends. Eat great food, take long walks in Central Park, and take mad selfies in Times Square. If you get the chance, don’t forget to give Lady Liberty a wave while you take a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

San Francisco

If you’re stuck in a city where winter comes early every year, break out and get a dose of mild weather and spectacular scenic vistas in San Francisco. Tour the Bay Area from a cable car and take a gander at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Eat something sweet at Ghirardelli Square then walk off the calories as you tour the winding hilly streets full of fascinating history, architecture, and people.

South Padre Island

Hitting South Padre for spring break can mean expensive airfare, costly hotel rooms, traffic-clogged roads, and crowded beaches. If you visit during fall break, however, you’ll still enjoy the crystal-clear water without the extra hassle. Take a kayak out on the water or sunbathe on the sand. Every night, local bars, clubs, and other entertainment venues come alive. You’ll meet more locals than travelers, which means a more authentic experience.

Las Vegas

Even if you aren’t old enough to slide a coin into a slot machine, you can find plenty to keep you entertained in Las Vegas. The shows alone make a trip to the Strip worthwhile, especially if you love music or magic. When you need a long walk to clear your mind, the minimalist desert landscape offers the ideal retreat.


For students who want a more low-key fall-break destination, Carlsbad New Mexico delivers in more ways than one. Visit the caverns themselves to explore subterranean havens that allow you to forget about the world above. The national park offers plenty of outdoorsy adventures to keep you occupied, while Sitting Bull Falls is the perfect place to meditate and relax.

No matter how you imagine your perfect fall-break escape, one of these destinations will satisfy your needs. Call your pals, book the flight, and pack your bags — school will still be there when you get back, refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the semester.


If you can escape college without a War and Peace-length list of regrets, you’re luckier than most. Everybody makes mistakes in college, but you can avoid some of those errors in judgment if you take advice from people who remember their own university experiences. Here are some things we’re passing on as a result of our own — ahem — “missteps” while at university.

Not Knowing Isn’t a Bad Thing . . . But Only If You Seize the Opportunity to Learn Something

When your roommate casually mentions a term you don’t recognize or your professor makes a confusing point during a lecture, don’t just nod and smile as though you understand. Instead, ask questions or hit up a dictionary or reference website and capitalize on some new knowledge. It’s kind of why you’re in college.

Go. To. Class.

It’s really tempting to look at a syllabus, see that the professor allows three absences, and to take that as a go-ahead to miss three classes. Don’t do it just because you can. Skipping class not only means that you miss the lesson (and no, getting the notes from a friend isn’t the same as being there), it also creates and reinforces bad habits. It’s a slippery slope and pretty soon you’re missing more classes and finding yourself in danger of failing at midterm as a result of absences or being lost in the material for which you were not present.

Your Professors are More Than Just Talking Heads

A professor does more than educate and grade you in the classroom. He or she can recommend you for an internship, help you get into grad school or find a job, introduce you to influential people, and generally steer and support you. Introduce yourself to your teachers at the start of each term. Participate in discussions and visit professors when you need guidance (profs have office hours for a reason). These relationships can be the stuff of professional development and lifelong mentorships down the line.

Use Student Loans as a Last Resort

It takes time and effort to apply for scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid. However, that work pays off when you graduate without a tremendous debt hanging over your head. Many college students need student loans to pay for school but they seek other financial help first. Even if you only cut your debt by a few thousand dollars, you’ll find your first few years in the working world are easier to manage when you aren’t paying off all of that interest.

Grades Matter, So Does the Larger Experience

Looking back with as few regrets as possible is all about balance and avoiding extremes. In college, of course grades matter, but so do friendships and life skills and experiences. You’ll want to devote plenty of time and energy to your studies, but don’t miss out on things like dating, day trips to a nearby city, joining an intramural team, and exploring beyond campus. On the flip side, don’t get so into these other experiences that you neglect your studies. Find your balance and you’ll hit your sweet spot for college and looking back.

Finally, although you’ll enjoy college more if you keep the above truths in mind, you’ll still make mistakes. Embrace them, learn from them, and devote yourself to enjoying the college experience. That way, you’ll look back on your college years as both informative and gratifying.