Whether you will be living on campus or off, college housing generally is pretty Spartan and often bears a striking resemblance to a prison cell. Your room will undoubtedly be in desperate need of some personality and warmth. But where to start on a limited budget?
Whether you are going for the Martha Stewart look or something a little more avant–garde, interior design doesn’t have to be expensive. Interior decorators make a name for themselves by being able to stretch their client’s dollar under some interesting architectural pressures.
You, most likely, will have a square room in which two people will live. That’s the largest hurdle – agreeing on a motif. Once you agree on that, you can start finding the elements. Try these tips to help you save while you decorate:
• Be thrifty – Thrift stores are a gold mine for items to use in your room as well as for ideas if you haven’t decided on a theme. Almost anything for a room can be found there at bargain basement prices, from curtains and bedspreads to wall decorations and lamp shades.
• Board up – Check the college bulletin boards for possible items being sold by other students. This can be the place to find a used dorm-sized refrigerator or bookshelves that are more than boards and cement blocks. Outgoing students usually want to unload their goods quickly, so prices can be negotiable.
• Shop online – Check free listing sites such as Freecycle and Craigslist daily for local items you likely won’t find anywhere else. If you’re going with a Western motif, you might find a pair of steer horns for the wall or a saddle made into an ottoman. Some of the listings will be free for the pickup and may only need minor repair or upgrading.
• Cash it – Stick to paying with cash whenever possible. Credit is costly and if bills add up, you could be making payments on purchases made long ago, long after you’ve graduated. According to finance experts, the average person should have no more than two or three credit cards in their wallet. Try not to succumb to credit offers that could carry a high interest rate.
• List it – Make a list of items you think you’ll need and try not to stray from it. There will be things you find that you think you must have. Think again. Stores in college towns will stock plenty of colorful products designed for dorm rooms—for a price. With a little effort and imagination, you may be able to reproduce the effect for much less.
When designing a dorm room for two, it is best to shop together as a team. You can play off each other’s ideas and stop one another from making an unwarranted purchase. You’ll also avoid duplication. And, in no time, that stark space will be your own and reflect the personality of those living there, all without breaking the bank.Continue Reading Tips for Stretching Your Dorm-Decorating Dollars
Moving from high school to college is a huge transition for any individual. It typically represents the move from childhood to adulthood, from the security of the parental home to being out on your own. And for many, college holds a mystery about it, even if their parents or older siblings have related their own experiences.
There are any number of questions high school students headed to college could have, without knowing where to get the answers. They come to this threshold with impressions flavored by their public school experiences and information that has been filtered through unreliable sources.
Here are some answers to basic questions college-bound students may be asking:
• Major concerns – Declaring a major field of study is not as much of a concern for the average freshman as it’s often made out to be. Students frequently change their major as they gain more college experience. In fact, most experts advise freshmen to use their first year to explore all their options before settling on a choice of majors.
• Buy used – Unless it is a newly published textbook that your instructor requires, it is a much cheaper move to buy a used copy from the college bookstore. Less expensive alternatives also can be found online. Or share the book with others in your class. And don’t buy the textbook too early. Discuss with others who have taken the class to see if you will really use it enough to get your money’s worth.
• Play more – All study and no play does not make for an optimum college experience. Making time for amusements is not only enjoyable, but can reduce stress and help you build friendships. Joining extracurricular sports or volunteer activities can broaden your horizons, maintain mental health, and often garner contacts you will use in your future career. If you work, take as light a load of hours as possible to meet your financial obligations.
• Use resources – Your professors and your guidance counselors are there to help, and not just with class schedules and homework assignments. When you get to class, introduce yourself to your instructor, ask questions, and take advantage of the professor’s office hours. If you go out of your way to create a connection, they will go out of their way to be of help and could become a good resource for finding a job later. Counselors can point you in the right direction if you need help in making course decisions and can give you insights on academic life.
College counselors can give you helpful hints and be your source for almost any question you have about college life—from loan applications, to medical services, to governing regulations, to finding part-time work if needed. All you have to do is ask.Continue Reading Transitioning from High School to College: Some Basics
No matter how studious you are in college, it seems the all-nighter is inevitable. The image of a student hunched over the books or laptop, swilling coffee by the gallon, is as much a part of campus life as the kegger and the homecoming parade.
Experts give any number of reasons to avoid working through the night, whether you are in college or beyond. The inevitable will happen, they admit, but don’t make all-nighters a habit. According to them, persistent sleep deprivation can result in:
• Increased depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders
• Loss of the mental restorative benefits of sleep and its aid to memory
• Decreased capacity to learn
• Weight gain
• Poor decision making
As much as a student may try to keep regular study hours, though, there will come a time when an all-nighter becomes a must in order to complete an important paper or to study for an unscheduled exam. In that case, there are a few tips to follow that can minimize the damage and maximize the chances that you will actually accomplish the goals you’ve set for the night:
Skip the coffee – Stimulants like Red Bull and the old standard, coffee, can keep you awake but at the cost of a major crash when you halt your intake. Instead, try drinking cold water every half-hour or get a natural energy boost from vitamin C, peanut butter, and sports drinks or other foods with a high amount of electrolytes.
• Take naps – All night doesn’t have to mean ALL night. A little sleep is better than none. So, rest your eyes for a few minutes or an hour at a time.
• Make your move – On the flip side of napping, take a small break each hour and get up and move your body. This can including putting on some music and dancing, stretching, or doing a few pushups.
• Limit distractions – While you’re working, turn off your electronics, including your phone and the television. Don’t check your email. It’s not the perfect time to do a load of laundry or anything else that will take your mind away from the task at hand. Stand up and then sit back down in your chair to refocus yourself.
• Avoid sweets – Just like with the caffeine crash, sugary foods will give you an initial boost, or a sugar high, which then goes away and may make you more drowsy than you had been before. Instead, keep your sugar level on an even keel with apples. But, you could be better off avoiding eating much at all.
Success in college can sometimes involve staying up all night to prepare for class the following day. But all-nighters should always be the exception and not the rule, whether in college or in business.Continue Reading 5 Tips If You Absolutely Must Pull an All-Nighter
With all the money worries college brings – tuition, books, rent, student fees – a major concern will be finding ways to cut costs. One way to make a difference in expenses is in the way you live your daily life. There are ways to trim living costs that will put a decent dent in your bills without forcing you to live on bread and water.
Some of these methods work best for college students simply because you are a college student. You can make a play for people’s sympathy and ask for their help by giving you a break on the price of various goods and services.
But the bulk of these techniques, once learned, will serve you well after you leave college and head out into the great, wide world of work. Most first jobs won’t be paying top dollar. So, learning to live within your means while in college will be a major benefit to you in the future.
Some of these techniques are ones you’ve probably heard before, but that only means they are tried and true:
• Never pay retail – Always buy used whenever you can. This goes for everything from textbooks, to cell phones and electronics, to cars. Rent the things you won’t need permanently. Use the library. Share items with others and split the cost – the cost of a pizza for dinner, for instance. Thrift stores can hold some treasures in clothes and accessories. Of course you’ll need to make sure the used items are in good shape, but the savings over retail are often substantial. A car, for example, loses much of its retail value within the first year.
• Don’t take credit – Credit card bills can last much longer than your college career. Resist the high pressure sales schemes of your friendly banker who wants to entice you into that high-interest-rate card they seem to reserve for college students. Don’t have more than two or three credit cards with your name on them and cut up any cards over that number. Avoiding credit debt will more than pay off in your post-college years.
• Make a deal – If your car needs repair, you need a haircut, or you’d really like tickets to that new movie, ask for a discount. Don’t be shy, and admit you have tight money constraints. You’d be surprised how many people will cut you some kind of deal. Also, barter. Trade something you do for what you need done. Offer to help a student who’s good in auto mechanics with his chemistry studies. Dog-sit for your hair stylist and mow the lawn for your landlord. This should shave some dollars off the things you need.
There are bound to be other ways to save money while you’re living the college life. Be creative and remember that it costs nothing to try to cut corners. It could become a habit.Continue Reading Cutting the Cost of College Living: A Few Pointers
Living with your new college roommate will be the first big test of your ability to adapt to challenges and exist in the adult world. You and your roommate are, after all, different individuals with separate histories, different likes and dislikes, and sometimes distinctly different ways of doing things.
Whether you choose to live with an existing friend or to take your chances with a new face, sharing space with another who is your equal, not just a little brother or sister, will be a whole new world. As a result, living in peace is a goal that can sometimes seem out of reach. Short of giving up and finding another roommate, and possibly going through the same ordeal all over again, there are ways to work together and make the situation livable.
For example, if your roommate will be someone you’ve never met before, it would be to your advantage to communicate with them prior to arriving at the dorm or apartment. See what details of life you can share with each other. Get to know their major likes and dislikes and something of their life experiences so there will be fewer surprises.
In addition, consider these helpful hints for making the most of the roommate situation:
• Set rules – There needn’t be a written contract, but you should make it a point to settle some ground rules before the sun sets on your first day together. Some of these may entail study time, lights–out time, when guests are permitted to come over, bathroom schedules, and so forth. Set out where you will each keep your belongings and do your best to stick to the agreement.
• Show respect – This means more than respecting someone else’s belongings and space. Remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is particularly important in a roommate situation. You may not always, or even often, agree. But you will go a long way to maintaining peace if you respect your roommate’s opinions and decisions as you would want yours to be respected.
• Be helpful – As part of your ground rules, you will have probably divided up chores. But be open to helping out when needed. If your roommate is overloaded with school work, for example, offer to take on some extra duties. Or quietly take your leave so they can study without interruptions. You can then expect the same consideration in return.
• Communicate – Above all, don’t let problems fester by trying to ignore them to avoid confrontation. The two of you should be able to nip problems in the bud if you discuss them calmly instead of letting them build until they become poisonous to your arrangement. If one of you is slacking off on cleaning or sharing living costs, for example, it’s better to shed light on the subject and reinforce your cohabitation agreement.
Taking on life with a college roommate can be a test of your patience and understanding. But using some insights you’ve probably learned from your parents can go a long way to making that life easier.Continue Reading Tips for Making Life with a Roommate More Livable
Given all the decisions and choices to make in beginning a college career, one you may prefer to leave up to the luck of the draw and your school’s housing office is the choice of a roommate. But, if you do have the opportunity to make the choice yourself, there are some things to consider before deciding between living with a friend or someone new.
The choice between a BFF or a stranger is deeply personal and, of course, depends on the individuals and the situation involved. Is this future roommate a true friend or just someone you know from school? How much can you find out about the newcomer before you settle in together?
Here are some positives and negatives to consider with both situations:
• Pro friend – Obviously, the first thing to recommend a friend as roommate is familiarity. You are friends because you share something: a history, a hobby, or other interest. The familiarity can also ease homesickness. And you have a built-in friend as you get to know new people and your new surroundings, so you can approach the college experience as a team.
• Con friend – Living together is different from sleeping over or meeting up. This is when you’ll find out if your friend’s habits could be enough to test your friendship and perhaps even mean the end of it. If you are a neat freak and your good friend is a slob, it could become a serious issue, although it obviously didn’t matter before. Talking these things out should be easier with a friend. And there can be enough time to make other living arrangements before a final break is inevitable. But, before making a final decision to room with your friend, ask seriously if it is worth the possibility of losing that friend.
• Pro stranger – Living with a stranger automatically takes away the danger of losing a good friendship should cohabitation prove difficult. At the same time, it could be the perfect chance to make a new, trusting friendship because you will get to know and hopefully work through any personal disagreements that living together exposes. And, setting ground rules ahead of time will be less likely to hurt anyone’s feelings.
• Con stranger – Not knowing the person you are to room with means you are left to the whims of fate as to whether you can get along. You could be complete opposites in personality and outlooks. Your roommate could be an extrovert with friends coming over all the time, while you prefer a night with a good book. Or they could stay up late, while you are an early riser.
There is no certain answer to the question of whether it would be better to room with a person you know or take your chances. Just be aware of what is at stake, both pro and con, in the realm of maintaining or creating friendships.Continue Reading The Best College Roommate: Friend or Stranger?
Not all the education offered at colleges and universities is confined to the ivy-covered halls and classrooms. Learning about life away from the nest and coping on your own are major lessons that come from the college experience.
Possibly the first and most daunting lesson comes in learning to live with others, particularly if you are going to be living in a dormitory. This type of sharing is far different from life at home, even if you shared a room with a younger sibling. Here you will be in a community of equals, with only a resident assistant – another college student – to turn to in times of conflict.
In a dorm, you will not only be sharing where you sleep, change clothes, and study. You also will be waiting for your turn in the showers and to use the communal washer and dryer. Depending on the setup, you could be sharing an oven and refrigerator with several dozen people.
Imagine the students with whom you attend high school. Now imagine living with them – friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike – from morning to night and on weekends. That’s when you truly get to know the habits of others, particularly the annoying ones.
So, in order to survive dorm life, a resident must cultivate patience. After all, you probably have annoying habits, too.
There are other, more practical tips that can smooth the rough edges of life among equally uncertain residents. Consider these:
• Personal property – Unless you absolutely can’t live without it, it’s best to leave your most valuable or valued possessions at home with Mom and Dad. Concerning what you do bring: Label everything so there will be no question of ownership. This could mean sewing in labels, using a marker, or even using an etching pen on bicycles or other metal items. It’s not that your dorm mates are thieves. But things have a habit of finding their way from room to room, only to be left behind, forgotten.
• Cleanliness – Remember what your mother said and clean up after yourself, particularly in a shared bathroom. Consider the one using the room after you. Respect your roommate’s space and keep your clothes and accessories in your area. That also will lessen the risk of misplacing valuables.
• Rules – On the subject of roommates, it would be best to contact them before heading to college to find out about them and their likes and dislikes. You can also start laying out a list of ground rules concerning lights–out times, guests, study times, and the like. This might be easier to do by email than face-to-face.
• Openness – Leave your dorm room door open whenever you can. This indicates you’re friendly and available for chats or to help with homework or other problems. It can also open yourself up to making new, lasting friendships.
Dorm living can be not only survivable, but can be one of the more entertaining and educational of your college experiences. Just approach it with a few rules and a lot of patience.Continue Reading Dorm Life: Learning to Share
First time away from home? No parents anxiously awaiting your return after a night out or checking that you have finished your homework? Welcome to college.
The sense of freedom can be incredible – as is the terrifying thought that you may have bitten off more than you can chew.
Not in the mood for that early lecture. So, stay in bed.
Feel like having a bender on a Friday night? It’s okay.
Yes, in many ways this is college life – and a part of growing up – but it can be hard to strike a balance if you are away from home for the first time ever. Getting into destructive habits can take a toll on your education, affecting your health and mental well-being.
The exact reverse would be the students who take their work too seriously, missing out on the social opportunities inherent in campus life. Leaving college with a degree and none of the connections and memories so valuable to a well-rounded person is almost as though you haven’t fully explored your education.
Here are a few things to do to make sure you enjoy the most positive experience possible throughout college:
• Stay healthy – Eat properly, get enough sleep and remain fit. All of these will ensure you can perform physically and mentally – even when if you party hard over the weekends. Making sure your body is able to recover from the campus life challenges you throw at it will ensure you can keep up with all other aspects of college.
• Do what you need to do – Remember that the primary reason you are at college is to get a degree. Your entire future is based upon your education and, financially, you are probably already in debt up to your ears. Make sure you stay on top of your classes and assignments. Put in the hours and attend your lectures. If you know you are working and putting forth adequate effort, you won’t feel guilty taking the time out to play.
• Minimize risky behavior – Being placed in a position where you need to make adult decisions doesn’t necessarily mean you will make the right choices. It’s alright to make mistakes – that’s what college is all about, but try to ensure that any of these activities won’t affect you negatively in the long run. Stay safe and remember that you will need to live with your actions.
• Socialize – Make new friends, join clubs, play team sports. Your college experience is about so much more than a degree. A good education is also about the life lessons that you gain during your college years; lessons which will be with you for life. Choose close friends carefully, yet be friendly and open with others, so you can have a wide range of acquaintances.
Finding the balance between work and play is vital for a successful time at college and for building those special memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life.Continue Reading Finding the Balance: Study vs Play
College is meant to be fun – according to Van Wilder and countless other Hollywood versions of campus life. For many students, however, this is the first time away from home, and although Mom is just a phone call away, you don’t want to feel like a complete failure by falling back on them instead of the lasting friendships you could and should be making during this special time in your life.
Feeling daunted by the newness of everything may prevent you from getting out and exploring and the longer you avoid doing so, the harder things will be. Enclosing yourself in your dorm and heading out only to class could make you a recluse, before you have even realized what’s happened.
Going to college is about so much more than studying or partying. It’s about spreading your wings, becoming an adult, meeting new people, disagreeing with opinions and standing up for your beliefs. It’s about expressing yourself and being the person you know you were born to be.
So how do you meet college life head-on?
• Get out and meet people – No, I am not talking about adding friends on Facebook. I mean physically talking to real people. Directly. Standing in front of them. No gadgets and no smartphones. Join groups or go to forums and college meetings. Chat to the people sitting next to you in class. Go to college athletic games and cheer for your team.
• Play sport or exercise – Nothing helps one’s state of mind like a bit of sunlight and exercise. Hit the road, whether for a walk or a run, and get that heart rate up. Join a team sport or find a friend to chase a ball with. There’s always the college gym. Pull on your sneakers and go and check out the sights from a treadmill.
• Ask for help – Feeling like you aren’t coping? You’re not alone. Speak with one of the campus counselors and get the support you need. Often, just talking to another person can make sense of a confusing time in a way you wouldn’t have expected. The counselors are there to assist students wherever and whenever possible.
• Ugh, dirty laundry – Don’t put off those ghastly chores just because you don’t know how to get started. Mom is not around to clean up after you! Talk to your fellow students, and find out how to get to the local Laundromat. Make sure you stay on top of your domestic responsibilities. Getting swamped with dirty laundry, a dirty room or a lack of food won’t help you in other areas of college life.
Take the necessary steps and embrace college life – now is your time, so make it count!Continue Reading College Life: The Challenges of a New World
Been enjoying college life a little too much? This can happen to the best of us.
By now, however, you may have come to the conclusion that the top results for those inconvenient tests tend to come after an endless night of shoving as much as possible knoweldge into your short-term memory – to later be called upon following day.
If you shudder with the thought of drinking another 5-hour energy drink, to help you stay the course, then you know where I am going with this.
Yes, those all-nighters do have their place in college life, but by tweaking your strategies, you may be able to invoke the use of your long-term memory with less work – and less dark rings under your eyes.
How, you ask?
• Attend class regularly – By paying attention in class, and taking notes, the information gathered is moved into your short-term memory. From there, you can shift it over to long-term memory storage. By reviewing your notes after class and before your next lecture you activate your long-term memory, coaxing the information into permanent structures.
• Prepare for class – Perusing your notes prior to class, or reading the assigned material, your memory banks are able to interact effectively with the new knowledge acquired, enabling long-term storage. If you have an understanding of the subject matter prior to your lectures, you will be better able to assimilate and understand the new information.
• Practice makes perfect – As with all things, training gets you results. Feeding your memory a little at a time, on an ongoing basis, helps to strengthen the existing connections in your brain. By training your mind to process the information you need it to retain, and by allowing it to assimilate this with previously acquired long-term knowledge, you will absorb the material into your long-term memory for successful exam-time retrieval.
• Doing what’s necessary – Of course for “all-night” learners, the thought of preparing for class and planning in advance goes against the grain. Sometimes, due to extenuating circumstances or your personal style of learning, an all-nighter may be best.
Here is another thing to consider. By being a procrastinator, you have skillfully ensured that you don’t have the time to sit down and revise.
A possible solution here is to “trick” your brain into putting in the extra work – without it feeling as though you are actually working.
Leave note pages beside your bed at night. Before you pick up a book, you can glance through your notes. Take a few pages in your carrier bag and while waiting for friends at the local hangout, catch up on a point or two covered in the day’s lectures.
By taking advantage of a few spare moments, you can make significant positive changes. Don’t classify it as “studying” per se. Just let it be a bit of extra fuel for your long-term memory.
These small learning opportunities will add to your long-term memory and increase overall retention, thereby freeing you to get a good night’s rest before your exams.Continue Reading Study Tips For College Success