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.

If you’re a college student struggling to make ends meet, try using your talents and resources to make some extra cash. You may not be able to work full-time, but you might be surprised at the odd jobs that are available. Begin by taking inventory of your special skills. If you’re willing to explore creative options, you’ll discover good financial opportunities.

1. Be a Notetaker
A notetaker is a student who attends a classroom course and takes notes for another student who has accommodation for illness or disabilities. By law, colleges and universities must provide notetakers for students who have a registered learning disability. While being a notetaker, you can help students in need and enhance your own academic skills. Visit the accessibility resources office on your campus to offer your services.

2. Look for an On-Campus Job
An on-campus job is an ideal choice for a consistent influx of cash. Visit your financial aid or career services offices to inquire about job openings. On-campus jobs can accommodate your schedule and you may even be able to study while you work.

3. Get Paid to Help Others
If you excel in a particular subject, share your expertise with students who are struggling. Advertise your services on social media or talk to a professor about tutoring jobs that may be offered by an academic department.

4. Become a Merchandiser
Consider selling some of your clothes or used textbooks to make a few extra bucks. Local secondhand and consignment stores are often willing to buy gently used clothing. If you enjoy shopping, go to garage sales and thrift stores to look for hidden gems that you can buy and sell to make some extra cash. Rare books, antiques, and other collectibles can be sold online.

5. Use Your Domestic Skills

Use your free time to babysit, pet sit, or house sit as a flexible, part-time job. House cleaning, yard work, and snow shoveling can be worked into a busy college schedule. You can advertise online to find clients.

6. Hit the Road
If you have a car, consider working as a driver for people who need a ride. Join an organized rideshare service or create your own system to connect with potential customers. You can also deliver food or other goods for local retailers.

7. Become a Translator
If you speak a language other than English, become a translator. You can find translation jobs online. Contact local medical or social service agencies to offer your translation services for their patients and clients.

8. Become a Transcriber
College is the ideal environment to find work as a transcriber. Strong keyboarding skills are a necessity for this work. Contact academic departments to offer your services, or market your services online.

9. Donate Plasma
If you’re in good health and don’t mind needles, earn some extra money donating plasma. A component of blood, plasma is most often needed to treat accident or burn victims and people with diseases. Plasma donation centers offer cash and incentives to regular donors.

10. Apply for Scholarships
Spend some of your free time applying for college scholarships. You may discover special scholarships at your college that are available to students who are admitted into specific majors, for example. If you’re involved in campus or community activities, look for scholarships that will reward you for student involvement.

Completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is an essential step in securing state and federal financial aid for your college education. Here’s everything you need to know before filling out this important document.

Submitting Your FAFSA Form is Free

Submitting your FAFSA form is always free via the U.S. Department of Education’s FAFSA website. Beware of unscrupulous websites charging fees for submitting this form. These sites simply prey on students that don’t know better. They do not offer a premium service, despite their claims.

You Should Create Your FSA ID Early

You’ll need a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID to log in to various U.S. Department of Education websites and to complete your FAFSA form. If you are still dependent on your parents, either your mom or dad needs his or her own FSA ID, too. Creating FSA IDs via the Student Aid website is simple, but delays can hold up the process. In some cases, you might need to wait three days before using your new FSA ID. That’s why experts recommend creating your FSA ID as soon as possible, even before you’re ready to complete your FAFSA form.

Also note that you must create your own FSA ID. If a parent needs one, he or she must also create his or her own. It’s illegal for anyone to make an FSA ID on someone else’s behalf.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool Can Reduce Human Error and Save Time

State and federal bodies consider your last tax figures when determining your aid eligibility. Inputting relevant details from your last tax return can be tedious and time-consuming. A data retrieval tool from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can prefill tax information to your FAFSA form. This will save you around 30 minutes and ensure accuracy. New increased security and privacy protections help you use the tool with confidence.

Anyone who’s filed taxes electronically within the last three weeks or by mail within the last 11 weeks can use the IRS data retrieval tool. Simply click the “Link to IRS” button, which displays in the FAFSA form after clicking the “View option to link to the IRS” hyperlink.

You Should Complete Your FAFSA Form as Soon as Possible

With a final deadline of June 30, 2020 for the 2019–2020 financial year, you might think there’s plenty of time to get your FAFSA form in. However, submitting your form as soon as it’s available on October 1 can really pay off. Many states and colleges have much earlier deadlines for some financial awards. For example, to qualify for aid in Tennessee, your FAFSA form must be submitted by mid-January.

At least 12 American states also allocate grants on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, if you procrastinate completing your FAFSA form, there might be nothing left. Scholarships and grants, which don’t need to be repaid as loans do, usually have earlier cutoffs than the national deadlines.

All students seeking financial aid must complete a FAFSA form. Make sure you understand this document and what it takes to complete it to give yourself the best chance of securing state or federal financial aid.

The college experience can be exciting and fun, especially when you’re making friends and enjoying on-campus activities. But the daily grind of classes, schoolwork, and studying may cause you to feel a bit tired, stressed, or overwhelmed at times. Take time to care for yourself throughout the semester with these college student self-care tips.

1. Enjoy Some Alone Time

College is filled with classes and social engagements that keep you around other students for most of the day. And if you live with roommates, private moments may be especially rare. Enjoy some time to yourself so you can recharge after a busy day or week. Find a quiet spot in the library, go for a walk across campus, or fly solo to see a movie at the theater. Use the time alone to relax and think without the frequent distractions of college life.

2. Prioritize Your Sleep Schedule

College students often stay up late studying or spending time with friends. While those late nights can provide some important test prep or turn into cherished memories, it’s not a good idea to do it all the time. Getting enough sleep is vital to your health, energy levels, and mood. Plus, a good night’s sleep helps you to learn and retain new information and boost your memory, all of which is very important when you’re in class or studying every day.

Make sure you’re getting seven to eight hours of sleep most nights of the week. Establish a bedtime routine where you take a warm shower, read a book, listen to a podcast, or meditate before dozing off. These relaxing activities can help you rest more soundly and stick to a healthy sleep schedule.

3. Make Time for Exercise

Working out is one of the best methods of self-care, but it can be hard for some college students to find the motivation to do it. Even if you have a busy schedule, however, it’s important to fit in some physical activity at least a few times a week. Regular exercise can improve your mood and boost your energy. It even helps you enjoy deeper sleep at night (as long as you don’t exercise too close to bedtime). Consider trying one or more of these workouts for college students:

Take a workout class at the on-campus gym.
Join an intramural sports team.
Go for a run across campus.
Follow YouTube exercise videos at home.
Get a friend to be your workout buddy.

4. Talk It Out

When you’re feeling stressed, it can help to talk about what’s going through your mind. Meet up with a friend and chat about how you’re feeling. Call up a parent or sibling for support. If you’re a private person, it may help just to write out your feelings in a journal.

Don’t hesitate to take advantage of your school’s mental health services as well. Most universities and colleges have health centers where you can schedule an appointment with a counselor or therapist. These professionals can help you talk through any challenges you’re facing and provide useful strategies for overcoming them.

Don’t let stress get to you this semester. Instead, use these tips to take time to care for yourself.

Transferring to a new college can be a nice change of pace, but it can also be stressful. As a transfer student, you’ve got a little more experience under your belt. Even so, you’re not starting off the academic year immersed in friend-making activities like those found at freshmen orientation, which can make starting over at a new college a lonely experience.

Don’t fret. Here are a few simple ways to readjust to college life as a transfer student.

1. Attend Orientation

You might be tempted to skip orientation due to a been there done that attitude, but you’d be missing out. Most campuses hold transfer orientations separate from freshmen orientation, allowing you to meet other transfer students who are just as eager to make lifelong friends as you are.

Attending orientation also helps you navigate campus and learn where all the important buildings are. Having some familiarity with the school layout can help you feel more comfortable, ensuring your transition goes as smoothly as possible.

2. Find Your People

Making friends is an important part of college life, but it can be difficult for transfer students to make connections. Most college students establish friend groups in freshmen housing, which can make socializing as a transfer seem overwhelming.

Consider your interests, and research clubs and organizations on campus. This could mean joining an athletic club, rushing a sorority or fraternity, or getting involved in a class study group. Work study jobs are also great for making friends. The more you can put yourself out there and meet people, the more you’ll feel like you fit in.

3. Get to Class Early

Make it a point to arrive in class five to 10 minutes early. Even if you’re standing out in the hall waiting for the previous class to let out, you’ll have more opportunities to get to know your classmates. Don’t be afraid to exchange email addresses and phone numbers with those interested in forming a study group. Your classmates may be waiting for someone else to take the initiative.

4. Meet With Your Advisor

Getting to know your advisor is essential whether you’re a transfer or not. As an incoming student, however, you’ll need to understand your degree plan, including any prerequisites and general education classes that might differ from your old college’s requirements.

Your advisor isn’t just someone who helps you figure out which classes to take. Your advisor can be your go-to person on how to improve your campus experience, so ask their advice on clubs, organizations, and local joints that will make your remaining time at college more pleasant.

5. Be Confident

The saying fake it ‘til you make it can certainly apply in college. Even if you’re feeling insecure, walking across campus with your head held high makes it easier to make friends. Smile and say hello when you pass strangers. Strike up a conversation with the classmates sitting next to you. Faking confidence eventually builds real confidence, helping you be more successful during your remaining college years.

Transferring to a new college isn’t easy. Meeting the right people, making connections, and being open to new experiences will help ensure the process goes a lot smoother than you thought possible.

High school students and early college students can feel a lot of pressure when it comes to choosing their major. Many students at this point only have a vague idea of what they are interested in or what career path they plan to pursue. Not only is it possible to change your major once you’ve chosen it, but it also might not be that big of a deal in the long-run. Here are some things to consider when facing this decision.

When Does Your College Major Come Into Play?

Depending on your plans for after college, you might be asking yourself whether your college major matters. The short answer is that in some cases it does, but in others it doesn’t. Students hoping to go into STEM careers usually need to stick with the sciences when it comes to choosing a major. But even then, they have some wiggle room.

There are two main paths after undergrad: the job path and the graduate school path. When applying for jobs and interviewing, most employers are going to be more interested in your work experience and basic skills than in your major. Liberal arts majors end up going into many different career fields. Basically, with any liberal arts degree you can show an employer that you are driven, work well with others, and have good communication skills.

Graduate school admissions officers tend to look for the same qualities. They want to see good grades, good test scores, and some work or internship experiences. For example, many lawyers start out as English majors.

Are All Majors Created Equal?

All majors are not created equal. An art history major and a chemistry major are likely to have different options when it comes to post-grad career paths. However, both an art history major and a chemistry major will have many options. It’s true that STEM majors tend to have more lucrative careers, but that only goes so far. A liberal arts major could easily be earning more than a STEM major several years down the road if they’ve worked their way up in a company and the STEM major is stuck in an entry position.

How Do You Choose a Major that Fits Your Plans?

Entry-level positions at major companies usually only require a four-year degree. Most specific job skills can be learned while on the job, so employers want to see that you can learn and work well. If you’re interested in a particular industry, but you’ve already chosen a major that might not perfectly line up, don’t panic. Focus on learning the skills that will help you break into that industry even while sticking with your chosen major.

Don’t believe the lie that you must go into a field that exactly matches your major. Not all math majors become accountants, and not all engineering majors become engineers. Choose a major that will offer you good learning opportunities and the chance to do well. Focus on getting good grades, work experience, and learning something valuable from every class you take. This will do you more good than stressing over choosing the perfect major.

For many students, living on campus will be their first time living away from family. This change means taking on new responsibilities, such as paying for housing costs. But what about keeping things eco-friendly? Whether you’re new on campus or returning for another semester, you can easily make your dorm room more environmentally friendly. Get started with these four tips.

Shop Used Instead of New

Even though most dorms include basic furniture, you’ll still need other items: clothes hangers, an alarm clock, extra lamps, bed linens, a laundry basket, decorations, and more. Hopefully, you can get some free stuff from Mom and Dad or Aunt Kathy. For almost everything else, you can buy used instead of new.

Start looking at garage sales, consignment shops, thrift stores, or even Craigslist for what you need. You can save a substantial amount of money compared to buying new items, and you’ll also help the environment. Buying secondhand reduces carbon emissions from transporting goods, eliminates the use of raw materials like wood and plastic, and saves perfectly good items from the landfill.

Reduce Phantom Power

Did you know that electrical devices can still use power while plugged in, even when they’re turned off? Your cellphone charger, TV, hair dryer, laptop, toaster oven — anything you leave plugged in all the time — continue to waste energy when you’re not using them. This wasted energy is known as phantom power.

The least expensive way to reduce phantom power is to simply unplug the devices you’re not using before you go to sleep or leave your dorm. For more convenience, however, you can invest in a power strip with switches. Some of them even come with a timer or an auto-shutoff feature. You may also want to disable your computer’s screen saver: When it’s left on, it can use up to twice as much energy.

Use Green Cleaning Products

Along with studying and meeting new people, you’ll also (hopefully!) spend some time cleaning your dorm room. Make sure to pick up some eco-friendly cleaning products. Green Works, Mrs. Meyer’s, Method, and Ecos are just a few brands that use biodegradable ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. As a bonus, you won’t have to deal with the lovely smell of bleach each time you clean your room.

Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances

Are you planning to keep a minifridge in your room? If so, try to get a unit that is Energy Star-certified. Not sure if you need a microwave? You may find that hot plates do the trick.

Some dorms include a shared kitchen. In that situation, the stove is the biggest energy vampire. When possible, use smaller appliances for your cooking instead of the stove. Boil water in an electric kettle instead of in a regular kettle on a burner. Reheat pizza in a toaster oven. When you do use the stove, you can make the most of it by cooking several items at once.

Making a few small changes here and there can make your dorm room more eco-friendly. Try at least one of these tips, and see how simple it is to start living green.