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.


Eating well — that is, eating food that is healthy, tasty, environmentally responsible, and affordable — is a challenge anywhere, but it can be downright difficult and intimidating for college students who are limited by on-campus options, small kitchens, lack of cooking experience, and other constraints. Whether you live on campus or off, you’re actually better equipped than you might think when it comes to meeting the challenges of eating well while at college or university. Here are some facts, figures, tips, and tricks that will help you balance nutrition, flavor, and your budget.

Eating Well on a College Budget

From worries about the so-called “freshman fifteen” to the temptation of constant parties to the stress of late-night cramming sessions, college students often fail to balance the conflicting aspects of their lives. In fact, College Parents of America reports that 85 percent of college students experience daily stress. The solution lies in maintaining a healthy balance.

Set Aside Time Just For You

Whether you read a book in a local coffee shop or take a morning jog through campus, carve time out of every day for yourself. This is particularly essential for introverted college students who crave time away from the hustle, bustle, and din of campus life. If you can’t isolate yourself physically, bring an MP3 player and a set of headphones or visit a place on campus where you don’t know anyone. It’s all about finding your spot.

Create a Circle of Friends

Finding your tribe on campus helps you integrate into the school’s culture and find like-minded peers with whom you can exchange mutual support. Make a standing date with your pals so you stay connected even when course schedules and extracurricular activities pull you in opposite directions. Maybe you’ll go dancing every Friday night or have lunch on Wednesdays, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s a beneficial active done together and with some routine.

Pay Attention to Your Diet

Resist the temptations to skip meals get by on fast-food lunches and ramen noodle snacks. Instead, actively choose healthy alternatives when possible. Go for a salad instead of pizza in the dining hall or a bag of baby carrots instead of chips with your favorite dip. You’ll have more energy and feel more confident if you eat healthfully for most of your meals. If fellow students take part in unhealthy pursuits, including drugs or alcohol, steer clear of them. You are what you put into your body. Don’t fuel yourself with junk.

Find Your Ideal Study Zone

Do you study best while alone in your dorm room or surrounded by peers in the library? Do you remember more information after a morning cram session or a late-evening date with the books? Develop consistent study habits based on your learning style and preferences. Carry study gear, such as a small notebook and a pen, so you’re ready to make and check your notes or read the material on the spot and without delay.

Drop Classes If Necessary

New college students sometimes take more classes than they can manage. If you discover you’ve loaded yourself down too much, drop a class early in the semester. You can always sign up for it again next year. This doesn’t make you weak; it shows you can recognize your limitations and that you’re smart enough to adjust.

Learn to Say No

If the other kids in your dorm want to party on the night before a big test, feel comfortable saying no. Don’t overcommit socially or take on responsibilities you can’t fulfill. If you do, you’ll drown in obligations and burn yourself out very quickly. You don’t have to make up excuses or apologize for not participating. You don’t even have to give a reason, simply politely decline. During college, you must learn to take care of yourself first, especially since your college performance can impact your professional future.

Developing a healthy life balance in college might not seem essential, but it informs your entire education experience and your adult habits going forward. Whether you’re a brand-new student or a returning campus veteran, create sustainable habits that unite work, play, and rest.

You graduate high school, have an awesome summer, and then head off to college for four years, right? Not always. Today’s colleges host students of all ages and backgrounds. What accounts for the changing face of college and what unique challenges do these non-traditional students deal with?

College’s Shifting Demographics

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “In recent years, the percentage increase in the number of students age 25 and over who enrolled in degree-granting institutions has been similar to the percentage increase in the number of younger students . . . Between 2000 and 2012, the enrollment of students under age 25 and the enrollment of those age 25 and over both increased by 35 percent. From 2012 to 2023, however, NCES projects the rate of increase for students under age 25 to be 12 percent, compared with 20 percent for students age 25 and over.”

In some schools, students over age 25 already dominate the classrooms. During the 2013-2014 school year, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in Minneapolis, MN; Northcentral University in Prescott Valley, AZ; and Charter Oak State College in New Britain, CT all had student bodies that were mostly comprised of people over 25.

Why Is the Shape of the Campus Body Changing?

There are several factors that contribute to the rising average age of college students:

  • Online programs make it easier for adults to fit an education around their everyday schedules.
  • Many schools have affordable financing options and online resources offer deals on textbooks and other supplies.
  • A rapidly changing job market impels some professionals to look for a new career.

It isn’t just older students that benefit from a return to school. Younger students can learn from their older peers’ life experiences and professionals who go back to school represent a golden networking opportunity for their fellow learners.

Challenges for Older College Students

Whether older students enroll in college because they want a career change or because they just finished military service and are eager to embark on civilian life, they face unique challenges. The Seattle Post Intelligencer listed some of these challenges:

  • Social interaction: While it is true that students over age 25 are increasingly populating campuses nationwide, older learners may still feel a little odd when they walk into an English 101 class that is full of people who could be their children or grandchildren.
  • Academic level: Some older students, thanks to life experience or personal learning, will be steps ahead of their peers. Other older students, however, may need some extra time to get back in the groove of an academic routine.
  • Schedule: Online programs make it possible to juggle a work schedule, school schedule, and family life, but some students will take a while to adjust to a routine that includes college courses and homework.
  • Confidence: Everyone faces some jitters on the first day of school, even students who obtained their high school diplomas decades ago.

College is no longer the sole domain of people in their late teens and early 20s. Schools across the country welcome older learners as more and more people realize that it’s never too late to go back to school and it may even be necessary.


Have you ever wondered which subjects are most popular in terms of undergrad degrees? How about which career fields are most closely connected to those majors? Or what starting salaries are like? How about where your own interest/major stacks up and what you can expect to do in terms of work? We’ve got the scoop on all of that and more.


Earlier this year, Virginia’s Sweet Briar College announced that it would soon close its doors. The wealthy women’s-only school first opened more than a century ago, and since then, thousands of women have gained a solid liberal arts education there. What are the underlying reasons for Sweet Briar’s financial woes, is it really in its last days, and what can we learn from this strange case?

Landmarks in Sweet Briar’s History

Outcries over the school’s potential closing are understandable; Sweet Briar played a small but important role in Virginia’s history. It was founded in 1901 on the grounds of Indiana Fletcher Williams’ estate. A landmark moment came in the 1930s when the school established a study-abroad program, making it a pioneer in international studies. In 1995, 21 of Sweet Briar’s buildings earned places on the Virginia Landmarks Register. The buildings are also listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic District. Of course, the school isn’t stuck in the past. In 2004, it established an engineering degree program, making it one of two women’s colleges in the nation to offer such.

Sweet Briar’s Dwindling Enrollment

As precious as history is, it cannot help Sweet Briar to adapt to changing times. Opinions abound about what contributed to the school’s financial woes, but at the root of the problem is insufficient enrollment numbers. The school is in a rural location, making it difficult for part-time students to attend. Furthermore, while some women’s colleges have chosen to welcome men as students, Sweet Briar remains a single-sex school. Some women view this as an old-fashioned arrangement and feel they would miss out on some social aspects of college life. Some students who enrolled for a year or two because of tuition discounts leave before they finish their degrees.

Sweet Briar’s Bankruptcy

In spring of 2015, Sweet Briar declared that it would soon close its doors. A court ruling managed to save the school for another academic year, but that doesn’t mean Sweet Briar has an extended future ahead of it. Despite the school’s $94 million endowment, it still faces problems of enrollment and student retention. In the past, it tried to partner with larger, stronger educational institutions but so far none have decided to get on board with Sweet Briar. Another issue is that, since the school announced it would close, many members of the faculty took jobs elsewhere, meaning that, at the very least, the face of the school is changing.

The Saving Sweet Briar Campaign

A non-profit organization Saving Sweet Briar makes continuing efforts to keep the school afloat. Saving Sweet Briar has already raised millions of dollars for the school. The organization also seeks to educate the public about the college’s financial state and to find people who can join the school’s board of directors and lead it to a brighter future.

What do coming years hold for Sweet Briar College? Will the school be able to adapt to changing times? It is impossible to say. However, for now, the historic institution remains active and hopeful that it will serve future generations of students. For now, we congratulate Sweet Briar and we wish all associated with the college the best as they begin a new school year.

Summertime is synonymous with long lazy days and no school to worry about, but if you play all summer, college could end up being way harder than it needs to be. Little things you can do now can make the upcoming semester and the move back on campus so much better. None of these activities take long, you can do them last-minute, and each of them will make going back to school easier.

Check Out Your Professors

You may not know this, but college professors have ratings, just like movies and laptops. Just go to Rate My Professors and start searching. You can use the information to decide which classes to take or just to get a heads up about how that particular professor operates. Read the reviews and learn how your professors this semester teach. You may even find some hints and tips to help you get the best grade possible. Remember to stay open-minded and don’t let others’ experiences bias your own opinion of the prof.

Get Your Textbooks

One of the best things you can do before going back to college this semester is get your books. If you wait until the semester starts, you will have to get your textbooks from the campus bookstore and likely pay way more than you need to. Plus, you will actually have to buy them. While owning the books means you can sell your textbooks later, you may be able to rent your textbooks or get them digitally or from the library. Sites like CampusBooks let you compare the cost of renting versus buying and printed books versus eBooks so you can get the best deal.

Friend Your Roommate

You are going to be sharing a room with your roommate for the semester, if not the year. Go ahead and friend him or her on Facebook, send an email, or Skype before the semester starts. Together you can decide which furnishings and appliances to bring and lay the groundwork for the “rules of the room.” Plus, by contacting your new roomie ahead of time, you can avoid that awkward first day.

Stock Up

Once you and your roommate decide what you each will bring, it is time to go shopping. Appliances like a mini-fridge can be a blessing for those times you don’t feel like walking to the dining hall or when having a late-night study session. In addition to your textbooks, you should also make sure you have a laptop or netbook, extra bedding, non-perishable foods, and a few things to make your dorm space more like home. Also, stock up on pens, paper, notebooks, and highlighters. Those little items really add up, and if you have to buy them on campus you could spend way more than you intend (or need) to.

Make a Plan

Lastly, make a plan for how you will do everything. Budget time for extracurricular activities as well as study time. Allow yourself to plug events and activities into the blocks you schedule, and that’s it. That way you won’t over-commit yourself. Also, talk with your parents about when you intend to come home, how often you will call, and how much interaction with them on social media is okay.

College is a special time with new responsibilities and new experiences. Doing a few last-minute things to make collegiate life easier before your semester starts is a smart idea.


Back-to-school rush is on and things are crazy in terms of time and money. We’ve been working hard to bring students more tools to help them better manage those precious resources and we’ve released four new-and-improved time-and-money-savers just in time for textbook season!

1) Totally New Mobile Apps

CampusBooks for Android and CampusBooks for iPhone are totally rebuilt from the ground up and both provide a great way to buy, rent, and sell textbooks on the go. Get the apps and start scanning and saving ASAP. It’s so easy and you’ll save more than you knew possible.

2) Innovative (and Exclusive) Buy Vs. Rent Tool

Wondering whether it’s better to buy or to rent? Not sure if that $200 chemistry text will have any buyback value at the end of the semester? Questioning if renting really is the best deal just because it seems cheap now? We can help! Check out the Buy Vs. Rent tool in the left column of your price-comparison results at CampusBooks. You’ll see our recommendation for your best option. Based on a proprietary algorithm, BvR takes much of the guesswork and risk out of getting your textbooks.

3) Revamped BookBag

What’s better than saving some money on one or two books? Bundling four or five and saving even. The revamped CampusBooks BookBag takes the multiple books you add and does all of the math behind the scenes so as to take tax and shipping and coupons into account and present you with the overall best deal on the whole package. Maybe that’s all books from one merchant, maybe it’s a combo of a used book from Amazon Marketplace plus an international edition from Half plus a rental from Chegg and an eBook. Let us figure it out for you with the BookBag.

4) Library Inventory

The only thing better than cheap textbooks is free textbooks. Be sure to enable the Libraries option and enter your zip code in the filters of our price comparison so we can check area libraries (college and public) to see if they have your book nearby and available to borrow for free.

And Still More Upgrades and Updates…

In addition to these new-and-improved tools, we’ve optimized our website for speed and performance and we’ve added more merchants and more options for rental durations and digital downloads. We’ve also loaded up the site with coupons for many of the merchants. The costs of college textbooks may indeed be on the rise again as publishers roll out new editions and bundle access cards to make sure that their texts must be purchased new … but with some information and options, you can keep costs in check and get all of your books without breaking the bank.

Best of luck for the new semester!