The United States is a nation of animal lovers, with nearly 7 out of 10 local households owning a pet. You might want a furry, feathered, or scaly friend dearly, but are your college years the right time to become a pet owner? Consider the pros and cons carefully before jumping in.

Pro: Pets Are Good for Your Emotional Well-Being

Your college years can be a challenging time. Most students are away from their regular support systems and out of their comfort zone. Busy schedules and academic demands and expectations can take a toll on your mental health. During all this turbulence, a pet can be a valuable touchstone. Many pets, like dogs, cats, and birds, give back plenty of love. Studies show just looking into your dog’s eyes boosts your body’s levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.

Even less-expressive pets like mice and fish can help you feel less alone. When you feel attached to an animal your breathing slows, your blood pressure reduces, and your anxiety level falls. These are all great benefits for stressed-out college students.



Con: Pets Can Be Expensive

Pets can put a serious dent in your college finances. Buying or adopting a pet costs money upfront, and then there are ongoing costs like food, vaccinations, and vet bills to consider. According to the ASPCA, most people spend more than $1000 in their first year of pet ownership. Some pets, like fish, are relatively inexpensive, but other pets, like purebred puppies, can cost much more. If you’re already living on a shoestring, a pet could really break your budget.

Pro: Pets Teach Responsibility

Your college years are usually a period of transition from dependent high school student to more independent, responsible young adult. Pets teach responsibility because you should factor their needs into your decision-making. You must feed and supply them with water regularly and give them the attention, exercise, toilet breaks, and vet visits they need. It can be hard, but it’ll make you a better adult.

Cons: Pets and Student Accommodation Often Don’t Mix

Pets can be a barrier to finding and maintaining suitable accommodations. Many campuses ban pets of any description from their dorms. Some only allow selected pets like fish, which may not be what you have in mind. Even if you’re living off campus, you might find landlords unwilling to rent to you and pet. Make sure you know the rules about pets because if you violate them, you and Fido could find yourselves on the street.

If you find accommodation, the hard work isn’t necessarily over. Some pets can be destructive, especially if they’re left alone for hours while you’re studying or socializing. Soiled carpets, chewed windowsills, and scratched doors are all your responsibility. Are you ready to take that on?

Only you will know whether you’re ready to have a pet in college. There are some tremendous benefits to pet ownership, but some serious drawbacks, too. Consider your lifestyle and the needs of your dream pet carefully before deciding whether to get one now or to wait until after graduation.

You’re all moved into your dorm room and it’s time to say goodbye to your parents. It’s tough to see them go, but at the same time, you’re filled with excitement about your newfound independence. Luckily, you have a few days to learn more about college life before classes begin. Check out these five important tips for making the most out of your first week in college:

1. Go to New Student Orientation Events

New student orientation is specifically designed to help you learn more about campus and meet new people. It may seem intimidating at first, but jump right in and make the most out of the fun events available for new students. Expect the schedule to include a mix of social activities and educational opportunities that will help you learn more about campus resources.

2. Buy Your Books and School Supplies

In addition to having fun, use your first week as a mental jumpstart for your classes. Check out your class schedule online and make a list of the books and any other required supplies. Most classes won’t use a textbook during the first week, so you still have time to order books online. Make a trip to the store to get anything else you need.

3. Find Your Classes

College campuses have a large footprint, so use your first few days to get the lay of the land. Ask your roommate and walk around campus to each of your classrooms. If you know where everything is, you’ll be less stressed on the first day of classes. Check out the fitness center, library, and student union to learn all about what is offered for students.

4. Make New Friends

Force yourself to reach outside of your comfort zone during your first week of college. It’s important to make new friends and get involved right away in campus life. Start with your roommate. Go to the cafeteria or attend an orientation event together. You can also hang out in your dorm’s floor lounge and meet new people who live nearby. Go to a student activities fair and pick out a campus organization that interests you. If you get involved right away, you’ll make new friends that will last a lifetime.

5. Have a Great Time!

Your time in college is likely to be among the best years of your life. Seize every opportunity to learn and grow, but be sure to fit in time to relax and have fun. Remain healthy and balanced by incorporating exercise and recreation into your daily routine. College is your opportunity to plan out every moment of your day based upon what you need and want to do. Make the most of your first week of college, it will set the tone for the rest of your college career!

For you, joining a fraternity or sorority is a no-brainer. You’ve always known you’d go Greek. Or maybe you don’t think you’re cut out for rush week or the pledging process. You’d never join in a million years. Get both sides of the story and learn about the pros and cons of joining Greek life.

Pro: You’ll Have a Built-in Group of Friends

If you can’t wait to build a tightly knit group of friends, Greek life could offer just what you want. When you join a sorority or a fraternity, you’ll make dozens of friends instantly. Since you’ll be sisters or brothers, you’ll form close bonds right away and support one another throughout college and beyond. In fact, many former Greeks maintain those close bonds for decades to come.

Con: Your Friend Group Might Be Too Limited

Having a built-in group of friends can be great. But when you devote so much time and energy to your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters, you might not have the capacity to make other friends. As a result, your crew could be limited to those around you and the other Greeks your house socializes with regularly. You could miss out on meeting people at college who exist outside of the Greek life bubble.

Pro: You’ll Give Back to the Community

Greek houses are about much more than a group of friends and a place to live. Most Greek organizations are structured around the idea of philanthropy and giving back to the community. As a member, you can gain incredible volunteer experience and do charity work that helps you become a more well-rounded person.

Con: Too Much Social Time Could Compromise Your Grades

When you go Greek, you’ll have to commit a fair amount of time to doing volunteer work, socializing with brothers or sisters, and participating in house activities. Virtually every Greek organization wants you to get great grades. However, yours could suffer if you aren’t prepared to juggle the demands of Greek life with college classes and other commitments. If you’re worried, talk with current members to find out how they make it work.

Pro: You’ll Learn How to Lead and Collaborate

Learning strong leadership skills is important, even if you don’t aspire to be a CEO of a major company. Honing these skills can be hard, though. When you join a fraternity or sorority, you’ll learn how to lead and work as a team over the course of normal Greek life. Most houses have committees, hierarchies, and elections, so you’ll have tons of chances to practice.

Con: It Might Break Your Budget

Even if you think Greek life would be a perfect fit, you might not be able to afford it. With membership fees, room and board costs, and activity fees, your monthly bill can add up quickly. Be sure you understand the true cost before you go through the rush process.
Are you ready to rush or would you rather stick to the dorms? Keep these pros and cons in mind as you decide whether Greek life is right for you.

You have your acceptance letter and you can’t wait to spread your wings and leave your family home. But before you fly the nest, it’s important to get prepared. Follow our tips to get ready for your college move-in day.

Connect With Any Future Roommates

Whether you’re living in a dorm or off-campus, you’ll probably have a roommate. Don’t wait until moving day to start chatting. Connecting with your new roomie beforehand is a key part of the preparation process. It’ll reduce any first day awkwardness, so you can get straight down to having fun. You can also chat about the items you think you’ll bring, such as TV sets and microwaves, so you can avoid any double items.

Be Reasonable About What You Can Take and What You Can’t

Living with your parents, you’ve probably had ample space at your disposal. There’s your bedroom, of course, but you’ve likely got stuff in your parents’ garage, their attic, their basement, and other rooms in their house. Moving from such a generous space to a tiny dorm or apartment can be quite an adjustment. As you prepare to move to college, be realistic about what you can take and what you can’t.

Large items such as your bed and a couch might make your life more comfortable, but these items might not fit in your new space. You might find bunk beds and chairs or perhaps a futon that doubles as both a bed and a couch are more practical. Similarly, while a bike can make getting around campus easy, some students simply don’t have the space to store one. Research your new home and campus facilities to decide what you should take and what’s best left with your parents.

Start Packing Early

Packing for a move-in day is such a daunting job that procrastinating is easy. However, this won’t get the job done! Instead, take a proactive approach and start packing early. College junior and blogger Sally Stunkel suggests packing for around 30 minutes a day for around two weeks before your big move. Breaking packing down into bite-sized chunks like this makes the process far less overwhelming.

Start with the items you won’t need first, such as out-of-season clothes, sheets, towels, and books, saving items you’re using like toiletries and your favorite clothes for closer to the big day.

Have an Honest Chat With Your Parents

You might have fought like cats and dogs during your teenage years, but your parents are probably going to miss you. A lot. Chatting with your folks about what will happen on moving day will make sure you’re all on the same page.

Some students want to claim independence early and hire movers. Others are happy to move with their parents helping, but they don’t want them hanging around campus. For others, moving day provides an opportunity for one last special dinner together before the hard work of college begins. Be honest about your plans but sensitive to their feelings as well.

Moving to college is a massive job, but with careful preparation, you can make an easy transition from your family home to your new, grown-up digs.

It doesn’t matter if you’re at the top of your high school class or you’re somewhere in the middle of the pack. You’ve heard college isn’t going to be easy. But could it really be that hard? Find out how college and high school compare, and learn how tough college actually is.

Are College Courses Easier Than High School Classes?

If you took advanced placement or honors courses in high school, you’ve already passed challenging classes with flying colors. College classes have to be easier, right?

Here’s the thing: College classes usually require much more high-level reading, in-depth discussions, and academic writing. Because you get to choose the courses that interest you in college, they might seem much easier than your high school classes were.

Is It Harder to Make Friends in College?

Making friends is easy in high school. If you’re like most high school students, you either hang out with the same crew you’ve known since forever, or you make new friends naturally through sports teams and after-school activities.

The thought of starting over and making new friends in college can be intimidating. Fortunately, everyone has to make a new set of friends in college, so meeting people couldn’t be easier. Whether you become BFFs with your college roommates, your orientation crew, or your study buddies, you’ll find the perfect group in no time.

Do You Have More Responsibilities in College?

In high school, you might juggle a full slate of classes with an after-school job, a few activities, and all the socializing you can squeeze in. When you’re in college, you’ll probably have a similar number of things to juggle.

But once you move on to college, you won’t have your parents to set rules or your teachers to make sure you turn in assignments on time. That means it’s your responsibility to handle everything. Not sure if you can handle it? Your advisors, roommates, and new friends will all be there to help.

Is It Impossible to Stand Out in College?

If you attend a small school or if you’re at the top of your class, you know it’s easy to stand out and succeed in high school. In college, it doesn’t matter if you go to a huge state school or a private university. Being a star is much harder, since you’ll typically have much more competition.

Don’t consider the extra competition a downside, though. Surrounding yourself with other overachievers can help you find like-minded friends who push you to be your best.

Is It Tougher to Join Extracurricular Activities in College?

If you’re used to being the star soccer player or the first chair in your school’s orchestra, you might be worried that more competition in high school could make it too tough to join your favorite activities. While being number one will be harder, there’s a definite upside to extracurricular activities in college.

You’ll find many activities to choose from in college. Whether you’re into arts and music, languages and culture, or sports and working out, you’ll discover that it’s easier than ever to find an extracurricular with your name on it.

Making the transition from high school to college can be challenging for anyone. However, with the right mindset, you’ll settle right in and make college the best years of your life.

You’re young and probably healthy, but good medical care is important at any age. Health insurance makes sure you can get it without blowing your budget. Consider the following coverage options for your college years.

Stay On Your Parents’ Policy

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) lets students under 26 stay on their parents’ private or employer-funded health insurance policy. They should contact their insurer to arrange this. It’s the most affordable option for your medical coverage, but there are some limitations worth considering.

Health care policies are usually location-specific. If you’re studying out of state, finding participating health care providers may be difficult. You could schedule routine checkups for school vacations, but what would you do if emergencies arise? Sharing a plan with your parents could also compromise your privacy. Your parents will know what medical services you seek when they receive the explanation of benefits. Make sure you are comfortable with this.

Enroll in a Student Health Insurance Plan

Many colleges have student health insurance plans. These can be a great option if you’re a full-time student studying out of state, estranged from your parents, too old for coverage under their policy, or you’re concerned about your privacy. You can use your financial aid or student loans for these plans to avoid stretching your budget, although they can be more expensive than similar policies purchased through the health insurance exchange. You also won’t get government tax credits.

Read the policy carefully so you know what you’re covered for and when you’re covered. Some plans don’t meet the ACA’s minimum standards. This won’t concern some students with minimal health care needs but could impact others. Some plans only cover full-time students during the school year, leaving them exposed during the summer break.

While some schools require students to register for student health insurance plans, others sign them up automatically. If you don’t want or need the plan, you’ll need to prove you have adequate health coverage and sign a waiver. Check what your school does to make sure you’re only paying for the policy you want.

Buy a Regular Health Insurance Policy

Buying a regular health insurance policy through the ACA marketplace is another option worth considering. This will give you the most control over your health care coverage and privacy, although it will usually cost you more out of pocket. Note though that you can’t get your own individual plan if you could be covered by your parents’. If you’d like your own health insurance plan, visit HealthCare.gov or your state’s health insurance marketplace website.

Get Medicaid

Students earning up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and living in an eligible state qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid covers care at selected health care providers without any premiums. With little to no copays, depending on the provider and service, Medicaid helps students get health care on a budget. If you’re eligible, you can apply via HealthCare.gov or your state’s health insurance marketplace website.

No matter what you choose, make sure you don’t neglect health insurance during your college years. Comprehensive medical coverage will make sure you get the health care you need for less while you’re studying.

Around 37 percent of Americans attaining a bachelor’s degree will attend grad school and earn an advanced degree. With more Americans earning degrees than ever before, earning a master’s doctorate or another professional degree can give you a competitive edge over your peers. Tick the following things off your checklist as you prepare for grad school.

Organize Your Paperwork

The first day of grad school is not the time to discover important documents are missing or incomplete. Sort them out now for your peace of mind. Ensure your grad school has your completed student and financial aid forms. Sign and return any loan agreement or scholarship forms. If possible, establish your student account at the bursar’s office and make an early tuition payment. See your academic adviser and check whether there’s anything else you have overlooked. Knowing all these things are in order will help you feel more confident as the first semester approaches.

Research Your Curriculum and Professors

Some early research can also make grad school seem less intimidating. Browse through your syllabi and purchase the textbooks you’ll need. Familiarizing yourself with these books early will help you feel more confident about your advanced studies. Most schools publish student evaluations of professors and courses. These reports can help you make smarter decisions about your electives. Contact your admissions officer if you can’t find them.

Find Somewhere to Stay

While it might seem like an obvious item for your checklist, it’s one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Some graduate schools don’t have student housing. Some students feel their days of dorm living should be well behind them. Consider what you want and what you can afford. If your budget is tight, start your roommate search now.

Get a Job

If you’re not already working, you should be. A job will help you afford everything from your grad school accommodation to your textbooks. It will also prepare you for your career ahead by teaching you how to problem solve, work with others as part of a team, deliver good customer service, and more.

While jobs in your field, including internships, are advantageous, any work experience looks good on your resume, so don’t be afraid to look outside the box. Working as a summer camp counselor or bussing tables at a local restaurant is still beneficial. If your job is near your grad school, see whether you can still work part-time hours during the semester. Otherwise, a summer job might suit you best.

Set Clear, Achievable Goals

Too many students dive into grad school simply because they aren’t sure what else to do. Rather than traveling aimlessly through your education, setting clear and achievable goals should be part of your grad school preparation. This process will help give you purpose, focus your energy where it’s required, improve your motivation, and more.

Why are you attending grad school, what do you hope to achieve during your studies, and where do you want to end up after graduation? Answering these questions will help you set clear goals.

Preparing for grad school can be daunting, but methodically working through a checklist can help you transition from college with confidence.

Studying abroad offers an unparalleled opportunity to broaden your horizons. If you want to refine your foreign language skills, there’s no better way than immersing yourself in it. Between 2010 and 2015, the demand for bilingual workers in the U.S. more than doubled. Improve employability while nibbling pastries in Paris or gliding on a gondola in Venice? Yes, please! Find out how to squeeze the absolute best from your study abroad program so you can enjoy all the perks this experience has to offer.

Keep a Budget

Participation in a study abroad program can come with a hefty price tag. In addition to your tuition and administrative fees, you may also have expenses associated with textbooks, school supplies, and other materials. It’s important that you take your regular living expenses into account as well. Make sure you understand what’s included as far as meals, laundry facilities, and accommodations.

Once the basics are taken care of, you’ll want to have some extra funds on hand to truly enjoy the culture and country. This could include money for transportation, dining out, attractions, and souvenirs. Plan carefully so your budget will last for the duration of your stay.

Befriend the Locals

It’s easy to fall into step with the other American students studying abroad with you, but you should make an effort to expand your social circle. You’re missing out on an incredible opportunity if you don’t make some local connections during your stay. If you’re living with a host family, they might be able to introduce you to students in your age range. Your study abroad program may offer some opportunities to make new friends through excursions and other activities. You may have to step outside your comfort zone, but it’s well worth the effort.

Enjoy the Cultural Flavor

When you’re participating in a study abroad program, the goal is to experience the country like a local, not a tourist. Don’t restrict yourself to well-known highlights and Americanized restaurants. Veer away from the familiar, and find out what residents like to do in their free time. Ask your host family about little-known adventures in the area. Seek out the small, family-owned restaurants and attractions that tourists rarely find. There you’ll experience the true flavor of the country.

Take Side Trips

In many destinations, you have the unique opportunity to visit multiple countries with only a few hours of travel time. You can travel Europe easily by bus, train, or car. Budget airlines are an option as well if you’re covering longer distances. Compare the price of a plane ticket between London and Paris to the expense of traveling all the way from the U.S. to France, and you’ll see why this is such an opportune time to maximize your travels. Plan exciting excursions on the weekends, or extend your trip a few weeks beyond the conclusion of your study program.

Studying abroad is a valuable experience that belongs on every college student’s bucket list. With proper planning, you can make the most of your journey and enjoy memories that will last a lifetime.

In 2017, the National Center for Education Statistics reported 78 percent of students studying in the 2015–2016 academic year required financial aid, more than in any other year since the turn of the century. With more students needing financial help than ever before, it pays to seek out scholarships. Scholarships are better than student loans, as you never need to repay them. Make sure you stop by the following websites on your scholarship search.

Fastweb

Fastweb claims it’s the leading online resource for finding scholarships. CampusBooks’ Founder Alex Neal recommends it, so you shouldn’t miss stopping by. It lists more than 1.5 million scholarships, with a total value of around $3.4 billion, which you can filter according to your strengths, skills, and interests. Fastweb membership is totally free. Apart from the scholarship search, membership also entitles you to special student deals and discounts.

CollegeBoard

CollegeBoard is best known as a college-planning website, but it’s useful even before you ever start thinking about majors and extracurricular activities. The site has a comprehensive scholarship search of more than 2,200 programs, worth nearly $6 billion, based on its Annual Survey of Financial Aid programs. Complete your CollegeBoard profile in full, as the information it contains will help you find the most appropriate scholarship matches.

ScholarshipOwl

ScholarshipOwl is ideal for prospective college students short on time. Rather than having to apply for scholarships individually, ScholarshipOwl streamlines the process, instantly putting your name forward for hundreds of relevant scholarships on your behalf. You can also browse the site and find new scholarships to complete using the details in your online profile. ScholarshipOwl also has its own scholarship, the You Deserve It scholarship, awarded at random to an eligible member each month.

Niche

Niche is a simple-to-use website listing thousands of educational scholarships. Anyone visiting the website can browse these listings, which are searchable by categories such as states, majors, and minorities. However, you’ll get the most from the site when you become a member. Sign up for free and complete your profile to browse a filtered selection of scholarships you’re eligible for.

Scholarships.com

Established in 1998, Scholarships.com has positioned itself as one of the longest-running online scholarship searches on the net. Just like Niche, any members of the public can search, but it works best for members. Sign up for your free membership, complete your profile in full, and you can filter out the scholarships that aren’t relevant and focus on the ones that are.

Like CollegeBoard, Scholarships.com will serve you long after you’ve applied for aid. Its name is a little misleading, as it hosts a wealth of academic information, including advice about preparing for college, settling into campus life, and studying. Its nifty College Matchmaker feature is especially useful for students undecided about their school preferences.

Remember to read the eligibility criteria and application guidelines carefully; then submit your scholarship applications well before the due date. Then cross your fingers and wait. With a little luck on your side, you can receive the scholarships you need to ease the financial pressure of your college education.

LinkedIn is potentially your greatest marketing tool for finding internships and employment opportunities. However, fail to update your LinkedIn page and it’s little more than a digital resume. As a college student or a recent graduate, you might feel you’ve got little worth posting on LinkedIn. However, with some creativity, you can keep your LinkedIn page regularly updated and feeling fresh.



Change Your Profile Picture

LinkedIn pages with profile pictures get 14 times more views than pages without pics. However, a LinkedIn page with your last high school yearbook photo is never going to project the workforce-ready image you’re trying to present. Experts recommend updating your LinkedIn profile pic every year to help your page feel fresh and current. Forget about those frat party pictures, though. A simple headshot in front of a plain background presents a much more professional image.

Keep Your Information Up to Date

An old photo isn’t the only thing that can make your LinkedIn profile seem dated. Jessica Slaughter, a software engineer from Texas, recommends reviewing your LinkedIn profile page at least once a month and more often during recruiting season. Add any new classes and remove any you’ve dropped, note projects you’ve completed and any new ones you’ve started, and make any adjustments to your grade point average. Some simple tweaks will make sure your LinkedIn profile reflects your current situation.

Share Your Work

You’ve worked hard as a college student. LinkedIn gives you a platform for promoting that hard work. The site makes it easy to upload or link to your assignments, design projects, video presentations, articles written for your college newspaper, and other relevant work. Sharing your work doesn’t just keep your LinkedIn profile feeling fresh. It’ll also add visual interest and sell your skills to any browsing employers.

Write Blog Posts

While popular social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter focus on micro-blogging, LinkedIn gives you a greater platform for self-expression. Writing regular blog posts is a great way to keep your LinkedIn page fresh and to demonstrate how you tick. You could write blog posts about interesting lectures, concepts you’ve learned, or perspectives on current events in your industry. LinkedIn will share your posts with your network, but they could have an even wider reach. Remember to proofread them carefully to ensure they appear as professional as you want to be.

Seek Out Recommendations

Just as you consider customer reviews when buying new products, recruiters pay attention to LinkedIn recommendations, according to Omar Garriott, Salesforce’s director of product marketing and strategy. Getting recommendations on your LinkedIn page is a fantastic way to freshen it and to make you look more desirable to potential employers.

Contact your college professors, mentors, internship supervisors, or anyone else you’ve worked closely with and ask them to write a recommendation on your LinkedIn page. Offer to repay the favor and everybody wins.
Don’t let your lack of professional experience hold you back. Update your LinkedIn profile regularly and it can be a powerful tool in your search for internships, employment, and beyond.