CultureEducation

Adjusting to your college dorm can take some time. If you’re still working on settling in, or if your current situation just isn’t working out, here are five ways to adjust to your college dorm and make it feel like home.

1. The Bed

No matter where you go to school, there’s nothing comfortable about the jail cell-like bed of your dorm. Investing in a good mattress pad and bedding set that is warm and makes you feel at home is essential to making your bed feel close to the one in your room at home.

2. The Closet

Going from optimal clothing space to a three-foot closet is a big deal. In order to get through the size change, invest in space-saving hangers so you can still bring a large part of your wardrobe. Narrowing down the necessities that you need to bring is also extremely important when it comes to making the most of your new home. Bring clothes that make sense for where you are going. For example, if your school is in a location with harsher winters, load up your winter jackets, boots, and scarves.

3. The Bathroom

Not being able to walk around barefoot is a big step. Getting used to the idea of a communal bathroom can be frightening, but it isn’t as scary as it sounds! A shower caddy is your new best friend in college, as well as a pair of cheap flip flops to accompany you everywhere you go.

4. The Noise

The noise level is going to increase dramatically when moving from your room at home to a college dorm. Having 30 or so neighbors on the same floor definitely contributes to that. It’s important to get into the habit of taking advantage of the library when it comes to studying and doing homework because it will be your savior of silence and concentration.

5. The Roommate

Living with another person in the same room may not be something you’re used to. Having a friend can help you from being lonely and homesick, but it can also be difficult to get used to another person’s living habits. Setting rules and boundaries from the beginning is a key factor to make dorm living easier for both you and your roommate. Who knows, your living companion may just be your future maid of honor!

Overall, living on campus is a major part of the college experience and one that should be taken advantage of if given the opportunity. Even with its ups and downs, some of your best college memories will be made and shared in your college dorm, and you’ll be sure to call your college dorm home!

EducationSkills

The fall semester looms near. Did your pack your things? Make your schedule? Say goodbye to your summer flip flops? The end of August is a time of change, and for some students, this may mean starting a part­-time job for the first time. Now, I know it’s hectic to move into your dorm, prep for classes, and adjust to the back-­to-­school mentality, but now is the time to start hunting for part-­time jobs for the fall semester.

Here are four things to keep in mind:

1. School vs. Job

School comes first. But your job pays for school. But school comes first. This has gone through your head before, hasn’t it? If you’re like me, you work part-time during the semester to pay for textbooks, supplies, and tuition. Some students pay for their groceries and bills and rent. Whatever your situation, it’s important to understand your own limit and be able to balance that midterm paper on ancient Greek epics or the midnight shift in the student labs.

Everybody has their own pace. Some students may find the workload heavy, especially if they’re new students or thesis-­stressed seniors. Consider these things when you’re deciding if you want to work or not.

2. Paperwork

Since you’re working, you might want to get some things together. Before leaving mom or dad, get your personal information from them. Many jobs require identification, so get a state ID or an unexpired driver’s license from the DMV. At the end of the year, you’ll get some papers about taxes, which you might give to your parents so they can file their taxes. Don’t throw these papers out or lose them! You should provide accurate data because that tax info is the same info you’ll need for your FASFA (that sounds familiar right?). When in doubt, keep it, and ask your university’s finance or career office.

3. Where To Work

In the school library? In the labs? In the bakery, the clothing store, the modeling agency? Things to consider about your job is how it would work with your schedule. Because colleges can have pretty irregular hours, it may be hard to find someone who would take you from 3­-9pm one day, and 7am-­4pm the next. Keep in mind that university jobs tend to go to students who are in financial need, and departmental jobs look for students who are reliable in their major and may not depend on financial need. For example, I don’t get first dibs at the library, but I managed to find work in the photography lab. See the difference? Find what suits you, and don’t be afraid to ask around your school. Jobs as an assistant, teacher’s assistant, archivist, or anything else may be found in unexpected places.

4. Start Hunting!

Since people are going back to school, they’ll be quitting their jobs. Someone going from New York to California may drop one job in the Big Apple only to pick up another job in San Diego. Imagine all of the college students who are doing this (possibly including you!). The next few weeks are the perfect time to find jobs, especially in school (since the semester is starting again).

Each semester is a chance for a new beginning, to try something new or to redo something from before. Getting a job may be scary and stressful, but you’ll never know what you’ll get if you don’t try! Good luck!

Image: Tobias Mikkelsen, Flickr

EducationSkills

It’s almost that time of the year! In about a month or so, everyone will be lugging their boxes and suitcases  to their respective campuses. You more than likely have thought about the things you want to bring with you, and you probably have even made a list that is about ten pages long. When you realized you couldn’t move your whole house into your dorm room, you shortened that list to two pages. Either way, you’re all set to go to college. The only thing left to worry about are the textbooks you’re going to need for your courses.

Compared to finding a store that hasn’t yet sold out of Twin XL sheets, buying books might seem like the lesser of two evils. I mean, they’re just books, right? Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought when I waited until the last minute to buy the ones I needed for my classes freshman year. To make a long story short: I ended up blowing more than $600 on textbooks when I really didn’t have to spend that much.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. And don’t, I repeat DON’T, feel that the only place you can get your textbooks from is your campus bookstore. I’m not saying that you should avoid it like the plague because, though expensive, it may be your only option.

I am, however, here to tell you that you have quite a few options to consider before you resort to purchasing your books from the bookstore.

Here are alternative options for purchasing your college textbooks:

1. Chegg.com

Chegg is a website where you can rent and buy textbooks in both physical and digital format. Buying books off of this site will nine times out of ten save you a lot more money than buying from the bookstore. The same goes for renting, which is the option I highly recommend you consider. Chegg allows you to keep the book for the entire semester and they also provide you a prepaid shipping label to put on your box when you return your book, which means you don’t have to pay to ship your books back to Chegg. If you want to know more about Chegg, check out the website and see if it’s a site you’d feel comfortable buying from.

2. Amazon

One of the things I love most about Amazon is the fact that they give you a variety of price options for books. Don’t want to buy your textbook new because it’s about $200? No problem! Check out the used book prices. Whether it’s a hardcover or a paperback also factors into the price. Sift through the different prices, review each seller, compare ratings from their customers, and see which one has the best deal for you.  You might even find your $80  history book for a penny!

3. Campus Facebook Page

At the end of each semester or before the start of a new one, people will be trying to get some extra cash. One way people earn extra cash is by selling their textbooks. They may even post about it on Facebook, so check out any comments people leave on the college campus page to see if anyone is selling a book that you need. Better yet, post the list of books that you’re looking to buy and someone might be able to offer a good deal. You never know!

4. Book Loaning Program

If you can’t afford to buy textbooks, see if your campus has a book loaning program for students in great financial need. Find out what the process is to join and go about taking the necessary steps to getting involved with the program early. Programs like this may or may not have a limit to how many students they can accept, so don’t wait until the last minute to sign up!

5. Library

The campus library has a lot of books, including the ones you need for your classes. If you’re waiting for your books to arrive to your campus or if you can’t afford to buy books at that moment, check to see if the library has the books that you need. Chances are that the library will have them, but you have to be quick! The downside to relying on the library is that there may only be a few copies of a particular book and other students might be in the same bind as you are, which means they are more than likely going to be using library books to help them stay on top of their coursework as well.

There are a handful of sites like Chegg and Amazon that will allow you to save money on your textbooks. If you want to buy from them instead of using any of the options I’ve listed  above, make sure you do your research on the site before giving them your credit card information. See if you can find reviews about the site’s customer service because not all websites are legit or are reliable, so be careful.

Also, to be on the safe side, copy and paste the ISBN numbers of the books you need into the search bar of the site you decide to buy from instead of using the title. Textbooks tend to be offered in many editions because the companies who write them may update their books on a yearly basis. Unfortunately, each edition will more than likely have the same name. Using the ISBN number will guarantee that you’re buying the correct books for your classes.

I hope this article was of help to you! Remember, you don’t have to burn a hole in your wallet. Look for the deals that work for you. They’re out there, you just have to find them!

Image: mcconnors

EducationSkills

Whether you’re in high school or college, online summer classes can be a great way to catch up on material that flew by too quickly or beef up your credit hours. During the summer, you’re more likely to be taking less than a handful of classes rather than a full semester or quarter’s worth, which means you still have the opportunity to have some fun and spend time with friends and family.

Altogether I have taken four online summer classes through my university over the course of twelve weeks (six weeks per summer session over two summer). I decided to take two more classes online this summer because I absolutely loved the scheduling freedom they gave me during the active school year. I had more choice in what I wanted to take because I completed twelve credits of required classes.

Although I’m a big fan of online classes, I’ll admit they can be tricky when it comes to logistics and expectations. The first time around I was much more overwhelmed than I was this summer having already understood what I was in for. So I’ve gathered up the most important lessons and tricks I’ve learned to help you not only survive your summer classes, but to win at them along the way.

Check-in Daily

Consistency is key. Be aware of the reading you should be doing and papers you need to be writing. If you are anything like I was last summer, you might forget to check your school’s online portal for a few days only to realize that you have an assignment due the next day. You don’t need to spend hours scouring through the site every day, but you should be spending five minutes every morning checking in on assignments for the week and exact due dates so that nothing simple slips through the cracks.

Pay Close Attention to Details

Different professors have different guidelines. I’ve had teachers who assign work on the same due dates but at different times, even based on different time zones. If you live in California and are taking an online class from a professor in New York, keep in mind that your 3 PM is already his or her 6 PM. Don’t let the small details trip you up. Hit those submission deadlines because losing little points here and there can ultimately cost you a full letter grade.

Pretend You’re at School

When you sit down to do work, pretend you’re sitting in the library. Ignore the fact that you’re probably at home with temptations all around you—the bottom line is that you are doing real work for a real class that will factor into your transcript.

Think Big Picture

As important as classes and grades seem, try not to get too stressed about these online classes. It is summer, after all. Give yourself a pat on the back for taking the initiative to get ahead and be proactive! These tips will hopefully relieve some of the stress and help you enjoy your accomplishments.

What are your tips for conquering online summer classes? Let us know!

Image: Picography