March is just around the corner and with it comes the countdown to the best college vacay known to humankind: Spring Break! Whatever you’re up to, travel or volunteering or catching up on much-needed sleep or chilling with your family back home or parties by day and night, get your must-do’s organized so you maximize your break time and return to college rejuvenated.


Over a 40-year career, a college graduate earns $650,000 more than someone with some or no college, the Pew Research Foundation found. While there are some anomalies in the data, you’ll generally increase your lifetime income by finishing a degree. While this can be an enormous boon if you are raising a child, buying a house or planning to retire, it also can improve your daily life.

There are plenty of ways to get those last credits under your belt, including online education opportunities that adapt to your schedule. For instance, you can use a college locator like CollegeOnline to find learning opportunities in your area. If you stopped college before you finished your degree, here are five benefits that may motivate you to finish your education:

1. Higher marketability and better job retention rates.

The College Board’s Education Pays study revealed that college graduates have better job retention rates in a recession-related layoff than their peers who did not finish college. Even if a college graduate is laid off from work, she’ll have an easier time finding another job than a peer who does not have an undergraduate degree. If you faced tough times since the 2008 recession, getting a degree can increase your prospects of thriving through the next recession.

2. Improved self-esteem and confidence.

The Education Pays study also reported that college graduates are better equipped to handle difficult challenges and report more satisfaction when doing so. Over time, this can lead directly to more confidence on and off the clock, and higher rates of self-esteem.

3. Access to better jobs.

The desire to get out of a dead-end job can drive many adults to return to college to finish their degree. When you have a bachelor’s degree, you will qualify for more jobs within your organization and outside the organization. You can interview for better jobs, move up within your company and begin to derive a true satisfaction from what you do, day in and day out.

4. Expanded horizons.

A college degree often forces you to study subjects you might not otherwise have tackled, simply because you need to fulfill a requirement. This can broaden your perspective and offer you new ways to relate to colleagues, friends, family members and your community. If you’ve been putting off your plan to go back to school because you feel that you aren’t very good at math or writing, take heart. Studying these subjects as part of a degree requirement may have unexpected benefits. If you had stuck to a path that was more comfortable to you, you might not reap the benefits that would come from learning new things.

5. New friends and networks.

The connections many people make when in college can have a significant impact on their lives. So if you do decide to go back to school, get involved in the community or make friends with others who are in your classes. You can even connect with friends from online classes via LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networks. After college, your friend may be able to get you an interview (or a job) at her work. Without a college degree, you might not get a leg up on the sort of job you want.

This post comes from Carrie, a second-year student at Portland State University in Oregon. While only in her second year, Carrie has already racked up enough credits for junior standing, all while working as a freelance writer and oboe instructor in addition to her full-time studies — so you know her advice is good! Here’s what she has to say about getting back into the swing of things this term.

5 Tips for Getting Back Into Your School Schedule

Break was the ultimate relief because for just a little while I got to go home and rest. Amazingly enough, however, I was ready to get back to my usual routine about a full week into break when I’d recovered from sleeping for about four days straight. Here’s a list of my tried-and-true tips to help you get back into your school routine. I have to admit that I don’t always remember to follow all of them all of the time, but I find that the more I do stick with them, the better I feel and do.

  1. Prep Your Planner: First of all, if you’re not using a planner, I highly recommend that you do! It helps me plan weekends home while also keeping up on what’s due soon. The day I get my syllabi, I write in all of my due dates so that nothing is a surprise later on in the term and I can plan ahead.
  2. Buy Your Books Early: Searching online by ISBN will ensure that you get the exact books you’re looking for and that you can find them for a fraction of the bookstore price by comparing prices across the Web (I use because it saves me time and money). Just be sure that you buy your books early so that they ship to you in time for first classes. Saving money on books helps you stress less about finances and it will give you some spending cash to ease into that first week back with some pizza to soften the shock.
  3. Go to Bed Early: I never sleep well the first week back because I’m having headaches and nightmares about finding classes and not being registered and having bad professors. If I take a small dose of Advil to stop the headache, I can relax and go to bed on time. When I do this and keep a regular schedule for sleeping and waking, I’m ready for the next day.
  4. Map Your Route: If at all possible, find your classes before you’re racing to them! There’s nothing more embarrassing than walking into the wrong room or arriving to the right class a half hour late because you couldn’t find it.
  5. Take Care of Yourself: I notice that making breakfast in the morning, eating fruits and vegetables, staying hydrated, and walking helps me ease back into the change of being back to school. The transition can be rough on the body so it’s nice to give your immune system some backup and do things like eat right and exercise to help your mood.

The new year brings with it inspiration for improvement for all of us but also a particular set of resolutions and goals for college students. Those do’s and don’ts you set around January 1? Those ambitions and strategies for change for the better? They’re important but they tend to go by the wayside a week or two in as winter break ends, the new semester kicks off, and old habits return. That said, we’re checking in with you a couple of weeks into the new year with our down-to-earth realistic resolutions and reminders that any college student can stick with for 2014 and years to come. Make this your best year ever!

Resolutions for College Success

For many, having a dog waiting for you when you got home from school was a way of life growing up. In fact, The Humane Society estimates there are currently 164 million pets in American homes. As many students move away to attend college, they may consider owning a dog of their own — but what are the pros and cons of owning bringing a canine friend while pursuing further education?

Book end puppyPro: Overall Health

Owning a dog can contribute to your overall well-being in a variety of unexpected ways. Pets are excellent stress reducers, and spending time petting your dog can reduce your blood pressure and release relaxation hormones to help you to function more efficiently, according to WebMD. Other positive health benefits often attributed to dog ownership include lower blood pressure, faster recovery from illness and injury, and lower cholesterol levels.

Con: Cleaning

Dogs can be lovable, albeit messy. Dogs, especially puppies, come with the additional responsibility of cleaning up after them. If you adopt a puppy, you will have to housebreak the pup, which can take a lot of time and patience. Additionally, dogs need to be bathed, brushed, and have their nails clipped regularly.

Pro: Physical Fitness

Dogs need exercise and aren’t shy about it. Dog owners are more likely to go walk or run with them and having a dog almost forces you to exercise regularly. While you might be content to sit on the couch instead of exercise, a dog who doesn’t get regular walks will become restless and possibly destructive around the house. There’s no better motivator to get out and run than the possibility of a ruined couch.

Con: Expenses

If there’s one thing you’re short on while attending college, it’s money. Owning a dog can be a big financial commitment. Flag Pets reports the average cost of pet ownership comes to about $360 a year just for food — vaccinations and annual medical treatment can exceed $200. That doesn’t include toys, dog doors, treats, or other supplies. Additionally, if something happens to your pet, such as injury or illness, veterinarian bills can be extremely costly if you’re unprepared for them. Expect a dog to cost in total about $1,000 annually.

Pro: Love and Laughs

Nothing compares to the unconditional love a canine companion provides. They’re always happy to see you and always supportive regardless of how bad a mood you might be in. For students living away from home for the first time, a dog can provide much of the companionship and sense of family that might be missing from their new life. The love and friendship forged between humans and canines is the stuff of novels and films and can last for years to come. Dogs are family.

Con: Planning

If you’re the type who enjoys the freedom of going out all night or taking spontaneous road trips, owning a dog might not be feasible. Dogs need to be cared for and arrangements need to be made if you intend to not be home. Dogs can’t be left alone if you decide to stay out all weekend, and caring for a dog doesn’t allow for much error. When trying to figure out whether owning a dog is right for you, keep in mind what your current schedule is like and seriously consider if you have the time and finances to care for a new member of your household.

Making the Right Choice

Whatever you decide to do, think carefully and don’t act impulsively. A pet is a commitment for the animal’s life and not one of convenience. There’s no rush and you’ll have plenty of time soon enough to have a canine companion if now isn’t the right time. And when that time does come, do a solid by your future pup as well as all animals in need and adopt from a shelter or rescue group. Your new bestie will thank you with love and devotion every day for it.

How awesome would it be to have an apartment of your own? It would give you your own space and freedom. It would also give you more bills and a landlord. Off-campus living has many great advantages and plenty of disadvantages to consider before making a move into your own apartment.

Apt.Pro: Freedom

Let’s start with the obvious. There is no RA looking over your shoulder. You do not need to share a bathroom with a dozen other people. You have autonomy to do what you want to do. If you have the ability to swing an apartment of your own, then you do not need to deal with a roommate. You can be as messy or as clean as you like with no one to criticize you, except maybe a parent on periodic visits. Your own apartment also allows you to bring home dates as you wish. These are all important parts of your development into an adult.

Con: Missing Out

There is a reason the Princeton Review puts out a list of the top party schools. Campus living can be fun and, if you are not there, you can miss out on a lot. This year, the University of Iowa topped the list of party schools. It also came in first on the “Lots Of Hard Liquor” list and forth on the “Lot Of Beer” list. These things are not going to come to you if you are in your apartment. Other fun and academic activities are easier to access when living on campus.

Pro: Working Through The Summer

The hope is that you have a job that allows you to work around your class schedule and has no problem with you leaving for two or three months in the summer. The reality is that that is probably not the case. Most jobs that are okay with you leaving in the summer are intern positions or low paying. Having your own apartment will allow you to keep the job. Of course there is a catch 22 situation to this. You need the apartment to keep the job and you need the good job to keep the apartment.

Con: No Credit

Apartments can be expensive. Look at Boston apartments as an example. According to, an average Boston apartment can run about $1,881 per month. They are not just going to give you this apartment because of your good looks. You will need first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, and a credit history. If you have no credit history, you may need to come up with an additional deposit or be able to show that you have a strong income. If none of that works, then mom and dad may need to cosign for you.

Pro: Building Credit

You may have no credit now, but establishing a payment history can help create a good credit account. Experian and TransUnion report rental payments as positive credit. If this is important to you then ask your landlord to report lease payments to the credit bureaus. Also, utilities and telephone bills that are paid on time will all show as positive reports towards your credit rating.

Con: Financial Aid Won’t Cover It

If you have a good job that covers rent, then an off-campus apartment may work for you. If you are working from a smaller salary and financial aid, talk to you student financial adviser. Financial aid and student loans generally do not cover living expenses that are not on campus.

Your smartphone isn’t just for posting selfies, Tweeting clever observations, and finding the best happy-hour deals in your town, it’s actually a powerful platform for helping you make the most of your college experience, academic and otherwise. We’ve rounded up a dozen apps beneficial for all college students, regardless of your device’s OS and your personal learning style. Oh, and if you need one more to make perfect baker’s dozen, we’ve got our own scanner-enabled app that can help you save on college textbooks and get more cash at buyback.


Whenever you’re in college and want to go where the fun is, you can always head to…the library? Seems like an odd choice, but eMarketer reports that today’s generation of college students are spending more time in front of digital screens than they are back in their rooms watching TV. The library is no longer a place to cram or to pick up books for a last-minute essay: It’s a place where students connect with one another, whether they’re a room away or a state away. This connection is not without risk, however. What threats lurk in libraries?

Mobile Theft

Leave a cell phone on the table while you go to the bathroom, or your laptop on while you head to the printer. Come back, and it’s gone. If this sounds like a familiar story, you have company. Theft is by far the most common crime reported on a college campus. The theft often involves a laptop or mobile phone snatched up when the owner took their eyes off of it for a split second. Pulling an all-nighter at the library may make you less thoughtful of the risks of taking a smoke break or thinking that you are alone in the study section may make you take risks. Whatever the case, you can easily prevent theft simply by having your mobile on your person at all times. Lock it down whenever you do not use it.

Shoulder Surfing

When a person walks by you half a dozen times, they may just admire your shoes or your watch…or they may try to sneak a glance at the digits on display on your screen. “Shoulder surfing” is a real risk to college students at the library or in the dorms, since our passwords, student numbers and even credit card information may show up on display at any given time to anyone who walks past. Be aware of shoulder surfing by accessing password-specific sites before you go to the library and never putting personal information on a page unless you’re in the safety of your apartment or dorm. Get protection against shoulder surfers with an identity theft protection service, so that those who do try to shoulder-snipe your data come away empty handed once they hit the protective wall.

Class Papers

With several hundred students under their charge, a professor likely asks you to include name, student ID and possibly a contact number. If you throw away old papers at the library, you never know who is coming to pick up the trash and glean this treasure trove of personal information. College students are at some of the greatest risks for identity theft, says the Better Business Bureau, partly because they do not realize the importance of shredding or destroying sensitive information. A fellow student, library worker, janitor or random person off the street can take a thrown-out paper and use the information in conjunction with student records or social media pages to steal your identity.

If you’re a student, you know that every penny counts. That said, we’ve put together this new video showing you what’s up with and how it’s a must-use savings site for high-school students, undergrads, graduate students, avid readers, and anyone who loves a good deal.

Whether you’re buying books, renting books, or selling books back, we’ve got you covered. See how much you can save using, how easy it is, and how you simply can’t afford not to compare prices on textbooks. We’re on your side and helping you save more than just pennies.