College is great, but every new experience carries unfamiliar risks with it. Whether you’re living away from home for the first time, juggling a part-time job with full-time studies, partying every chance you get, or all the above, you could run into unexpected problems. Here are a few common risks to look out for.


It’s common for students to fall ill, especially when living in a dorm with many other people. In small quarters, one student’s sickness can travel quickly from one person to the next. You may also find your good health habits slipping; many students don’t get enough sleep or eat healthy meals. Combine this with general stress, and you become a living petri dish for hungry bacteria.

To avoid getting sick, take care of yourself and wash your hands often. Keeping your immune system strong helps your body fend off common viruses like the flu. However, you may still end up in an accident or contract a more serious illness. Prepare for the worst and find out what your school’s policy is for parental notification; some colleges won’t notify your family of a serious illness without your consent. If that’s the case for you, have a parent or other trusted person listed with the school as an emergency contact.


Attending college is a wonderful experience, but there are many stressors that can lead to depression, such as homesickness, financial issues, and relationship problems. There are many types of depression, and people can experience different symptoms; you may not even feel sad, but rather irritable or even apathetic about things you used to care about.

Most colleges provide free counseling for students. If you think you might have depression, contact your school’s health center. A trained professional can teach you coping strategies, discuss possible solutions, or just be there to lend an ear.

Alcohol and Drug Interactions

Partying is a great way to blow off steam, and alcohol won’t hurt you so long as you drink smart. Unfortunately, your prescription or over-the-counter medication might be deadly when combined with alcohol. It’s also possible for someone to slip a date-rape drug into your drink. 

Protect your drink from being spiked. Depending on the type of drug used and the attacker’s intentions, you could be robbed or sexually assaulted. Worst case scenario, you could end up in a coma or dead. Stick with your friends, never leave your drink unattended, and know what warning signs to watch for.

Another problem that’s less talked about but equally dangerous is that certain medications interact with alcohol. The medication may increase the alcohol’s effect, or the alcohol may increase the risk of drug side effects such as dizziness, difficulty breathing, or internal bleeding. For example, mixing alcohol with acetaminophen, an OTC pain reliever, may cause liver damage. When taking medication, check the label to make sure you can safely take it while drinking.

The college lifestyle carries certain risks, but with a bit of foreknowledge and strategy, you can avoid at least some of them.

Living with a roommate is part of the college experience. Whether you choose to room with someone you know or let the school set you up with a stranger, you’ll likely face at least one or two challenging situations. Prepare yourself for the year ahead with these tips for sharing your space with a roommate.

Talk Before Meeting Each Other

If possible, talk to your roommate on the phone or in person before your move-in date. Doing so will help you feel less nervous about meeting each other. You can also decide who is going to bring what, such as a mini-fridge, microwave, or furniture.

Talk about personal habits. Is one of you a neat freak while the other is a slob? Are you both early birds, or does your new roommate normally stay up until 3 a.m.? You should have this discussion even if you’re moving in with someone you already know.

Respect Each Other’s Schedules

No matter how considerate you are, you may still unknowingly annoy your roommate. Talk about your class schedules and study habits early on, and set ground rules. For example, if your roommate is a light sleeper, don’t let your alarm clock beep too long in the morning. If you have an exam the next day, ask your roommate to give you quiet time so you can study. Do you both wake up early each day? Figure out how to share the bathroom without making each other late.

Dealing with Hook-ups and Relationships

You don’t have much privacy when you share a room with someone, and this is even more apparent when one or both of you has a boyfriend or girlfriend or starts hooking up with people. Neither one of you wants to feel as if a third person has moved in, but you probably want to able to bring someone home.

Talk about your expectations. What visiting hours are you both OK with? Are overnight guests allowed? If so, how many nights a week is too much? Do you feel uncomfortable with your flat mate bringing home complete strangers? Be upfront with each other, and set etiquette rules that you both agree with.

Discuss Problems Early

Confronting someone is never fun, but sometimes you just need to do it. If your roommate does something that bothers you, bring it up right away. Try to stay calm; he or she may not realize the actions are upsetting you. Letting it go and hoping things get better rarely solves the problem. Instead, you’ll become resentful and start acting passive-aggressively toward your roommate, making things even worse. 

If you’ve tried to fix a problem with your roommate, but nothing is working, ask your RA for help. He or she can help you find a solution, whether that’s approaching your roommate differently or moving into a different room. Remember that you don’t need to become best friends with your roommate. Your goal is to have a cordial relationship. If you happen to become friends, that’s a bonus.

The key to getting along with your new mate is communication and respect. If things become tense, try following one or more of these tips. In most situations, you can make it work with a roommate. 

Whether you’re attending an Ivy League school or a local community college, tuition is expensive. You may be tempted to use a credit card so you can pay your tuition gradually over time. Plus, some credit cards offer generous rewards in the form of cash back, airline miles, or other perks. But, is paying your tuition with a credit card really a good idea? Here are some reasons why you should think twice before breaking out the plastic.

Schools Charge a Convenience Fee

The convenience of paying your tuition with a credit card often comes with a school-imposed convenience fee. The fee varies by school, but it can be anywhere between 2-3 percent of the amount you put on the card. That percentage may not seem like a big deal, but it can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars throughout your college career if you frequently use a credit card to cover tuition.

One survey asked a range of public, private, and community colleges about their policy regarding credit card payments. Of the 92 public institutions in the survey, 83 charge a fee.

Credit Card Interest Rates Are High

You’ve probably heard it said time and time again that credit card interest rates are often sky high, but the sentiment bears repeating. Many college students don’t have spectacular credit simply because their credit history is so short; if that is the case for you, it will be especially difficult for you to find a card with both a high spending limit and a reasonable interest rate.

Scrutinize any credit cards you get approved for. Some may offer a low initial interest rate that will spike after the first six months. You don’t want most of your payments to end up going toward interest rather than the principle. If you make minimum payments, it could take you decades to pay off the card, and you would be paying thousands more than if you had used another method to pay your tuition.

There Are Better Alternatives

Because there are so many convenient and low-cost ways to pay for college, there’s no reason for you to resort to using a credit card. Some of the best ways to pay for school include:

  • Federal student loans and grants. A grant is something you won’t have to pay back at all. You do have to make payments on federal student loans, but the interest rates are generally low. Some student loans are even eligible for loan forgiveness after a specified period of time.
  • Scholarships. You can visit the counseling office at your school to find out if you qualify to apply for any scholarships.
  • Federal Work-Study. This program provides part-time employment to help students in need pay for their tuition and related expenses.
  • Help from family and friends. If you accept a loan from any family members or friends, be sure to put it in writing and make sure each person has a copy of it so you avoid misunderstandings that might pop up later.

Affording college is tough, and resorting to a credit card to cover tuition can make it even tougher. Put the plastic away and look for better ways to pay.

College costs go well beyond the price of tuition, so covering expenses calls for creative solutions to make money. In addition to the savings, grants, scholarships, and loans used to pay for school, part-time income can also provide a vital financial boost while you are earning your degree.
Sometimes, work commitments can interfere with your first priority of getting an education. The key to lining your pockets without sacrificing good grades is finding balance and scheduling your work outside study hours. Easier said than done? Fortunately, there are lots of ways to make cash while you’re still in school, without failing in the classroom.

Conventional College Cash

Work/Study – These structured programs are part of a complete financial aid package. Students fortunate enough to land these positions may be put to work in administration offices, academic departments, food service facilities, and other convenient campus locations. To be considered, apply through regular financial aid channels.

Hospitality Jobs – Hotels, resorts, restaurants, and other food and beverage outlets require staff. And hospitality is a 24-hour business, so the hours present flexible scheduling options for college students. Not only that, but many of these service positions include tips, so the pay is above average. Front desk positions, kitchen jobs, wait staff, and bartending spots are all fair game during school. And if you play your cards right, a part-time hospitality job could grow into an internship or full-time management-level work.

Childcare and House/Pet-Sitting

Side sitting jobs can furnish a steady source of income. If you don’t know a lot of people in your college town, your professors and school advisors may be a good starting point for finding this type of work. Once established with a satisfied customer or two, word of mouth will keep clients coming in.

A Little Less Conventional

If you are a budding entrepreneur or simply march to the beat of your own drum, consider one of these ideas.

Resale Business – From textbooks to gently used electronics, second-hand sales can help you earn money during school. A flexible, self-inspired resale business can be run from home during hours you choose. And you’ll learn lessons about marketing, accounting, customer service, and business management.

Blood/Plasma – This isn’t for the squeamish, but regular plasma donations can add up to a sizable part-time income.

Driving Jobs – Driving for Uber or Lyft can generate part-time income, but your age or level of experience might get in your way. If you’re not yet eligible to drive for one of these high-profile companies, look at food delivery opportunities instead. Or start your own service hauling goods, turning your car or minivan into a money-maker.

Reviews and Feedback – Information is valuable, so your opinions and feedback can bring in cash. Secret shoppers, for instance, are paid to interact with staff and rate their performance. Audiences also earn money by providing viewer feedback about commercials, TV programming, and movies.

When your college cash flow stalls and you need a financial boost, don’t despair. There are plenty of ways to earn extra money, from traditional jobs like waiting tables to new-fashioned jobs like second-hand internet sales.

With social media platforms from LinkedIn all the way to Twitter, you can make or break your chances of performing well in college and finding a job after graduation. Used properly, these websites can help you connect with other people in your field of study. Used improperly, they’ll distract you and hurt your grades.

How can you balance your online social life with your academic life? How do you focus on studying without checking how many “likes” you got on your latest Facebook post? Check out these tips for making social media work in your favor.

Replace Multitasking with Single Tasking

Do you send text messages while you’re in class? Do you check your Twitter notifications while you’re writing a paper? If so, you’re less likely to remember important information. You may think you’re multitasking, but studies show that multitasking’s value is a myth. When you do two or more tasks at a time, what you’re really doing is task-switching. This practice decreases your concentration, which in turn affects your grades.

To increase your productivity, try focusing on one task at a time for 25 minutes to two hours. For example, you can close extra windows on your computer while you work on an essay, and then check your email afterward. Try turning your phone off during class. To let your brain recharge, you should also take a 15-minute break from both studying and social media every couple of hours.

Post Carefully

Used wisely, social media can boost your career. Some people have even been hired directly through these sites. For example, Colleen Ballinger now has a show on Netflix starring her YouTube character, Miranda Sings. However, posting the wrong photos or updates online can cost you job opportunities. According to Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, 55 percent of recruiters have reconsidered candidates based on their profiles on social media sites.

To make the most of your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, use proper grammar and avoid posting profanity, sexual content, and references to illegal drugs. You should also avoid posting any negative comments about previous jobs or employers. 

Consider Cutting Back

Unlike the U.K., the U.S. doesn’t yet recognize social media addiction as an official condition. However, you should still use social media sites in moderation. You may have a problem if you find that your usage negatively affects your grades or your relationships with other people. 

To cut back on your social media use, you can disable notifications on your phone or download apps that block the internet. Schedule a specific time to check your messages once per day. Don’t know what to do with your newly found free time? Try taking up a hobby or joining a club. Meet people in person more often. Some people opt to do a complete social media “detox” by disabling every account. If you choose to go this route, you can expect withdrawal symptoms to disappear after about 100 days. 

As with any tool, the way you use social media determines whether it helps or hinders you. Don’t let social media hold you back in your academic life. Try following at least one of these tips, and see if it makes a difference.

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.


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.


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.



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.”


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.