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Essentials for Commuting Students

Essentials for Commuting Students

CollegeStudentsNot every student moves into the dorms when they go away to college. Boarding in a dorm costs about an average of $10,389 a year so it’s no surprise that many college students choose to stay at home and commute to school. Although commuting to school has an advantage when it comes to saving money, it has its own challenges, like making sure you’ve packed everything you’ll need for the day, having enough gas to get to school, or, if using public transportation, that you’ve timed your schedule right. Such challenges are easy to overcome with these essentials for the commuting student:

Public Transportation Musts

If you’re commuting on public transportation, you’ll want to make sure you have your bus schedule, along with any transfers, timed out perfectly so you don’t end up late to class. Download a public transportation app, like Moovit, for real time status updates so you can make it to your bus, train, subway, or trolley on time. Moovit even sends service alerts to let you know if there’s a delay or other issue, great for avoiding getting stranded or missing an important class altogether. Taking public transportation to college isn’t all bad, in fact it has many benefits, like reduced fuel consumption and reduced carbon emissions. Plus, commuting on public transportation provides college students a great opportunity to catch up on reading, assignments, and studying—just be sure to pack a pair of earphones to help block out noise of other commuters and traffic.

Car Essentials

If you’re driving yourself to school, there are some car essentials you’ll want to keep in mind to make sure you don’t get stuck on the side of the road or hit crazy traffic. Keep a set of jumper cables, and learn how to use them, in your car in the event your battery dies and your car won’t start. It’s also a good idea to keep a set of spare keys in your backpack in case you lose a set or accidentally lock them in your car. You should also make sure you have a full tank of gas to last you the week so you don’t have to stop by the gas station (especially if you’re running late) on your way to school. You might want to consider keeping a prepaid gas card in your glove compartment for when you run out of money and gas at the same time. Download a traffic and navigation map, like WAZE, to look for alternate routes to school in case of road blocks or other traffic problems.

A Durable, Comfortable Backpack

When you commute, you have to have everything you need for the day with you since there’s no dorm to run back and forth to. Unfortunately, that means you’ll need to be prepared to lug around heavy text books all day. One of the best ways to tote all of your books around is to get a seriously durable backpack. You’ll also want to make sure the backpack is comfortable, after all, you don’t want to kill your back carrying your books from one end of campus to another. You can help prevent back pain by evenly distributing the load, wearing both straps, and wearing your backpack 2 inches above the waist. Finding a backpack that will take weight off your back such as the Comet pack by Osprey, will make your gear feel like a second skin. Find one that has back comfort and safety, as well as durability, and padded straps for added shoulder comfort—your back will thank you later!

What to Pack in Your Backpack

What you pack in your backpack might change day-to-day, depending on your class schedule or after school plans. Regardless of your schedule or plans, some things that always come in handy and are absolutely essential for commuting students are device chargers, a water bottle, and sunglasses. Since it can be hard to predict how long you’ll be on campus, you don’t want to get stuck with a dead laptop or smartphone. Bring a charger for all your devices so you can plug in at the school library or cafeteria, or bring a portable charger to power up your phone anywhere. Keep a reusable water bottle with you to stay hydrated and save money. Try the S’well water bottle to keep your drink cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. Whether you drive or take public transportation to school, sunglasses are a must. Be sure to keep a classic pair of sunglasses on hand to keep the sun out of your eyes when driving (the sun can be blinding), and for looking good when walking to your classes.

Enjoy the Commute

Some may argue that living on campus is better than commuting, but commuting provides something life on campus doesn’t—a reprieve from being at school. So enjoy the commute, make a playlist of your favorite songs and turn every car ride into a karaoke party for one, until you make it to graduation!

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Successful Strategies for NOT Moving Home After College!

Successful Strategies for NOT Moving Home After College!

uhaulCollege opens up the door to so many new experiences. It’s an opportunity to make new friends, experience a different environment and learn lessons beyond what the typical textbook can teach. For many students, it’s the first chance at independence and sweet freedom. That’s a taste that many don’t want to give up even after the four year experience is over. While the “boomerang” trend has nearly 45% of students moving back in with their parents after graduation, many other young adults opt to skip heading home and set their sights on a new city. Without the support of campus staff, however, it can be a tougher feat than one would expect. Here, we provide some tips and tricks for moving to a new city after college:

Visit the City First

It’s easy to feel that the grass is greener on the other side of town, but the truth is that the new city you’re eyeing may be quite different than what you’ve imagined. If possible, schedule some time to take a trip to the city you’re considering before pulling the trigger on the move. And don’t spend that time hitting up the tourist hot spots either, take some time to stroll the neighborhoods you might considering renting in to get a real feel for what life would be like. Even just a quick weekend can be an eye-opening experience that will help solidify or completely change your moving plans.

Keep safety in mind, also. Using sites like Crime Mapper can help you get a clearer picture of the crime rate in neighborhoods that you’re considering.

Set a Realistic Budget

Before you make any big move, you need to make sure that you’re financially secure. After all, what’s the fun in moving to a new city if you can’t go out and enjoy it due to limited funds? It’s important to take into account the monthly expenses that you’ll incur such as utilities, cable, and most notably, rent. Using a tool like For Rent can help you research the average rental rates and see what’s available in cities across the country. That way, you won’t experience sticker shock when you see the price of apartments for rent in cities like New York.

It’s also important to account for all of the costs that go into the move itself, including travel expenses, professional movers, storage facilities, and even rental application fees. Theses individual costs can add up quickly and have a big impact on your bottom line.

Set Up a Local Bank Account

If you’re moving from a small town to a big city, the local bank that you grew up with may not have any branches nearby. While this doesn’t present a problem when you’re swiping your debit card, ATM transaction fees (ranging anywhere from $2-$5 per transaction) can quickly put a dent in your bank account. Setting up an account with a bank that is convenient to your new location will not only help you avoid paying fees, but also give you peace of mind that you can get real, in-person assistance, when needed.

Job Hunt Before You Go

Moving can be stressful. And if you’re moving AND looking for a job at the same time it can be quite overwhelming. If possible, try to secure a job before making a move. Using sites like LinkedIn, Monster and Glassdoor can help you research local companies, network with people in the area, and easily apply for jobs online. If there are slim pickings in the industry of your choice, don’t rule out a part time job at a local café or corner store. It’s a great way to get to know others in your neighborhood and make sure you have an income source.

Don’t Be Homebody

In college, classes and campus events make it easy to make friends who share similar interests and a similar schedule. Once you’re graduated, however, it can be a bit harder to forge a friendship. Thankfully, you can use technology to your advantage. Sites like Meetup.com make it easy to find groups of people in your city who share your same passions and interests. In fact, in cities like San Diego, more than 100,000 meet-ups take place every week. Using sites like this can help you build relationships in your new city, before homesickness sets in.

Have Fun

Moving to a new city after college can seem like a daunting experience, and can certainly be stressful at times, but it’s important to have fun through it all and make the most of every day. Moving will open the door to many new experiences and you’ll create unforgettable memories in the process.

Have your own tips for moving to a new city after college? Share them in the comments below!

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The Secret to Post College Success

The Secret to Post College Success

collegecampusIn a report by Accenture, 49 percent of 2013 and 2014 graduates consider themselves underemployed, while 52 percent reported being employed full-time. Meanwhile, a poll by Gallup shows only 11 percent of business leaders agree that college students are prepared to enter the workforce. While the news may sound bleak, it’s actually an incentive for college graduates to stand out from the crowd and empower their own careers. Take control of your future and stay flexible to opportunities for success. Here are five ways to get started.

Find the Latest Hotspots

Where you live can impact your job search success. Forbes reported that Yuma, Arizona, has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Meanwhile, in 2015, Denver, Colorado, was ranked by Forbes as the No. 1 place for business and careers. The city attracts college graduates for its highly educated labor force, outdoor recreation and promising economic growth. But there’s more to relocating and starting a new life just because of a promising job market. Before you decide to pack up, check out a rental site to explore the community and cost of living.

Learn to Network

An NPR article revealed that up to 80 percent of jobs are unadvertised, yet the majority of college graduates are still looking for positions on job boards and sending out positions. Finding those open positions can feel elusive, but are within reach with the right approach. Networking is the key to long-term job success whether you’re looking for your first position or switching careers.

Attending networking events is good advice, but not the only way to connect. Remember that your college peers are part of your network and joining your alumni organization, staying in touch and helping each other are all ways to build up a viable career network. Create your own network by joining or starting a LinkedIn group and connecting with hiring departments of companies you’re interested in and touching base.

Set Goals

Setting career goals starts in college by continuously building your network. Write out your goals and make a commitment to add 10 or even 20 new contacts to your network every week. Next, research careers you may be interested in and identify what type of experience you need. The more clarity you have about your job goals, the more likely you are to succeed.

Find a Mentor

The Student Career Development Study showed that 37 percent of college students say their parents are their mentors, 21 percent are family or friends and only one percent are someone found in an online marketing group. But if family and friends aren’t actually working in the field of interest, a mentorship can prove ineffective.

Empower your future by finding a mentor through your alumni center, online networking groups on LinkedIn or a former employer. It’s also not unusual to have several mentors depending on your needs. One mentor may shape communication skills while another can help with landing a first internship.

Get Creative About Interning

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employment (NACE), 63 percent of paid interns got a least one job offer, and 41 percent of unpaid interns got at least one job offer. While internships are crucial to college success, they’re not always easy to land in a competitive marketplace.

Get creative about your internships and open up other avenues like part-time jobs, full-time employment over the summer or looking into shadowing programs. Consider designing your own intern-style opportunities with free work. Charlie Hoehn, entrepreneur and author of the book, “Recession Proof Graduate,” strategically offered to do free work to land a dream career and rub elbows with successful entrepreneurs. According to Andrei Zakhareuski, an ESL teacher and BusyTeacher admin, the key to finding the right opportunity lies in being in the right place at the right time. Instead of just emailing your application from your apartment, go to the person or business you’d like to work for and introduce yourself. You’re more likely to be taken seriously once you’ve given employers a face along with your name.

Remember that your success may be contingent on someone’s decisions from time to time, but is still within your control. Stay flexible, look for creative opportunities and keep the momentum of your career moving toward success.

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5 Top Tech Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Could Afford

5 Top Tech Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Could Afford

Cool-Tech-Gadgets-For-StudentsAmericans spend the equivalent of 17 percent of their monthly rent or mortgage payment on technology, according to the American Institute of CPAs. That figure goes up for people who download songs, apps and other products. If your budget is tanking every time a new gadget comes out, you’re not alone. But it could be time to reevaluate your purchases.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go on a gadget strike. There are plenty of tech gadgets that don’t break the bank and give you the functionality you’re looking for. It also doesn’t hurt that these gadgets will give you plenty of street cred with your friends. Here are five tech gadgets you didn’t know you could afford.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Just because the latest, cutting-edge smartphones aren’t cheap doesn’t mean you need to settle for less. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge features a 5.5-inch Quad HD Super Amoled screen and is water- and dust-resistant. While the full retail price is $799.99, you can get it for less. Opt into a payment plan for 24 months at roughly $30 a month from T-Mobile instead of forking over your entire paycheck.

AMPware Rechargeable Smartphone Case

Although the AMPware case was inspired by dead batteries during Hurricane Katrina, it’s useful when your phone is dead between classes. Pick up the AMPware case for under $80, and keep your phone charged at all times. The concept is an old-school, crank-style generator that is packaged into the modern sophistication of a smartphone case. Crank the handle for about 10 minutes and power up your phone for two hours of regular use.

Divoom Voombox Outdoor

Kick off your next dance party or impromptu jam session with the ultra portable Voombox. With a list price hovering under $80, the Voombox is a compact, wireless Bluetooth device that’s durable enough to use outside. With 12 hours of battery life, you can set this up as a speaker at your next party and let it go through the night. The device is also water-resistant, making it less likely to fry if someone spills their drink or it gets pushed into the pool.

Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse

Wearable tech is all the rage, but it comes at a steep price for monitoring your heart rate and number of steps walked on the Fitbit and Apple Watch. Fortunately, there are other wearable fitness options, like the Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse, which retails for around $20. Track your steps, heart rate and pulse to get motivated to get back in shape. Xiaomi Mi Band also tracks your distance and estimates the calories and grams of fat you burned.

iPad Mini 2

Apple does not have the reputation of being inexpensive or affordable. However, you can pick up an iPad Mini 2 for under $270 and enjoy all the bells and whistles you want from an Apple product. Choose between 16GB and 32GB of space in either silver or space gray. Load it up with your favorite apps, listen to iTunes, watch shows online via Netflix and take photos around campus to create a slideshow.

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Tips for a Successful Start to the School Year

Tips for a Successful Start to the School Year

CollegelifeThe back to school tip lists are rolling out in droves, with most concentrating solely on little scholars and their parents. But newly grownup students are also coming down from summer’s high and filing back into classrooms all over the world, and the back to school transition can be a tough one when it’s entirely your responsibility.

Your first couple of weeks back at college (or in those hallowed halls for the first time) will probably be the hardest but they are also the most crucial. Crush the first month and you set yourself up for success in this and future semesters. Here are just some of the ways you can prepare yourself – mentally, physically and financially – for the most epic school year ever.

Talk (or think) about money

Even if parents are covering 100% of college expenses, it pays to talk money. The cost of higher ed goes beyond tuition and fees. There are books to buy and students still need to eat when they’re living away from home. Cars cost money to maintain and weekend entertainment is probably going to be a part of your budget. Don’t end up in debt before you get the diploma! Make a budget and decide whether or not you’ll work while studying in advance so you don’t have economic stress (now quite common) on top of your school stress.

Look for device deals

Even though taking notes by hand has been shown to increase data retention, a quality tablet is definitely a must-have for both work and play. Carriers like T-Mobile are almost always offering some kind of promotion, whether it’s a back-to-school deal or something like T-Mobile’s current offer of a free year of Netflix when you purchase a Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge.

Optimize your sleep cycle

When summer’s fun ends it can be a real shock to the system. Avoid exhaustion by making a point of getting to bed at a reasonable hour beginning a few weeks before the term starts. You get bonus points – not to mention a better chance of earning those As – if you wake up at a reasonable hour, too.

Adopt new, more organized habits

Use a planner. Set reminders. Pick a spot in your room and create a study zone with everything you need to stay focused. Create a routine. Put study time (and exercise) on your to-do list. Make procrastination impossible with apps like Procraster. Sure, none of this sounds sexy but if you’re completing your assignments on time and pulling great grades, you’ll have plenty of time for the sexy stuff after hours.

Plan ahead to stay safe

You can’t concentrate on your studies when you don’t feel comfortable in your environment so get to know your campus by doing a few daytime walking tours. And get familiar with your school’s safety resources, like how to dial campus security and where to find help at night.

Take advantage of orientation

Whether you’re a returning student or a fresh out of high school freshman, there are usually plenty of activities on campus designed to help you make new friends and get acclimated. Be outgoing. Ask questions. And look into mentorship if this isn’t your first year but you still feel adrift. Mentorship programs can help you get the most out of your major, connect with more classmates and really feel like a part of your college community.

Remember, college life is exciting. There’s so much that’s new – and not just the academics! Jump into the fun stuff feet first but keep in mind that your education should be top priority. Make time for friendships, social events and just plain chilling out, but think in terms of balance. You can make the grade without sacrificing the full college experience with some forethought and a willingness to follow through when it counts.

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3 Types of Subscriptions to Help You Get Through College

3 Types of Subscriptions to Help You Get Through College

studentlaptopFrom shave kits to beauty products there are subscription services out there for just about anything. But, as you try to prioritize your limited resources, which ones do you need for the next school year? Whether you’re in your first or last year of college, here are the best monthly subscription services for college students:

School First

While there are a lot of fun subscription services out there, the most important are the ones that help you with school. With Microsoft Office 365 University you get all the tools you need to succeed while at college, including PowerPoint, Word and Excel. All the essential word-processing and presentation programs are available as part of this four year subscription service.

Another helpful subscription is Adobe’s Creative Cloud. This provides you with Photoshop, Illustrator and many other premier graphic design tools. With these two subscriptions, you have all the tools you need for college. For a special deal on Adobe’s Creative Cloud, check out OnTheHub, which has many exclusive offers for students and teachers.

But all that computer time can be hard on your eyes. It’s important to wear your contacts or glasses on those late night homework stints. Luckily, Vision Direct has a subscription for contacts, so you’ll never be without the eyewear you need.

Snackables

Snacks don’t always have to be junk food, like potato chips and soda. Instead, Graze Box offers over 90 different snacks delivered directly to your door every month. With four- and eight-snack options, you get a variety of healthy snacks. Choose between super seeds, aromatic broths, fruit, nuts, seeds or even something with a bit of chocolate mixed in. Graze Box makes sure you never want for the snacks you need while doing lab time or sitting through a long lecture.

A similar alternative to Graze Box is NatureBox, which delivers organic and healthy snacks directly to your door. While NatureBox has a monthly subscription option, it also has an option for three and six months subscriptions to help cut down on costs.

Brew Subscriptions

For those mornings that you just need an extra kick to wake up, Mistobox has you covered. While many college students usually drink coffee on the cheap, Mistobox delivers quality coffee directly to your door every month. Get the taste and quality you want at the price you can afford. With Mistobox, you don’t have to sacrifice your standards to get the morning brew you need.

Another brew subscription is only for the 21 and over club. Craft Beer Club delivers award-winning beers every month to your doorstep. This subscription service delivers four different styles of beer to your door. This is a great service if you’re looking to explore new beers because Craft Beer Club handpicks microbrews from around the country. And if you have more worldly tastes, The International Beer Club can send you beers each month from two different international breweries. While this is a great way of discovering new beers, please drink responsibly.

While these are some of the best subscription services out there for college students, honorable mentions should be dished out to both Spotify for providing stellar and unlimited music selections and Netflix for those late night movie marathons.

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See New York City Art This Summer Without Breaking the Bank

See New York City Art This Summer Without Breaking the Bank

botanicalgardenA summer trip to New York City offers theater and art students a way to experience galleries, shows and performances. Most students are unable to splurge on many expensive New York City activities, but there are still opportunities to experience the city’s culture on a student budget. If you are eager to witness your classroom instruction coming alive, consider these budget-savvy options:

Museum of Modern Art: Manhattan

If you want to experience modern art, you are in for a treat. On Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., admission to MoMA is absolutely free. If you want to take a look at the sculpture garden, it is free every morning from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. If you can’t make these limited hours, student prices are only $14.

Brooklyn Academy of Music: Brooklyn

Are you interested in listening to jazz or experimental music? On select Fridays and Saturdays from September to May, the Brooklyn Academy of Music offers free concerts to the public.

New York Botanical Gardens: Bronx

From May through November, more than a dozen of Frida Kahlo’s drawings and paintings will be on display in the New York Botanical Gardens. The solo exhibition will highlight how the outdoors and nature affected her work. You don’t have to pay full price to see her acclaimed art, either. With a student ID, art students only pay $18 for admission.

Broadway: New York City

Although you may think that a Broadway show is out of your price range, there are plenty of summer deals. For example, students are offered the option to watch a matinee on Wednesdays and Fridays at a discounted price. And for popular shows like “The Book of Mormon” that frequently sell out, standing room tickets are available for $27.

Small Art Galleries: Around Town

A well-known secret in New York City is that many of the art galleries around town are either free to peruse or only have a $20 entry fee. These galleries give you a chance to see different types of art and how small galleries operate.

David Zwirner Gallery: Soho

The David Zwirner gallery is extremely popular and often has long lines outside of its exhibitions. One of the gallery’s major themes is infinity, as seen by Yayoi Kusama’s infinity rooms that were featured last year. The gallery also hosts mainstream artists.

Gagosian Gallery: Manhattan

This gallery boasts a global reach with locations in Los Angeles, London, Paris and Rome. Andy Warhol, Damon Hierst and Richard Serra represent a small sample of the artists featured in this contemporary and modern art gallery.

Sean Kelly Gallery: Midtown

Robert Mapplethorpe and Marina Abramović are two famous contemporary artists the Sean Kelly Gallery features in its space. If you gravitate toward unconventional and international art, you will love perusing this gallery.

SummerStage: All 5 Burroughs

For over 30 years, SummerStage has been New York’s premiere concert series. There are over 100 highly-accessible and free performances that include bands from around the world, kid-friendly events, and theatrical and dance productions.

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2014-2015 CheapScholar Presentations: Year In Review

2014-2015 CheapScholar Presentations: Year In Review

It has been a very busy and exciting year for CheapScholar.org. For those that don’t know, CheapScholar.org was “born” in January of 2010 as I took my passion for educating families and students about the financial aspect of the college experience to an entirely different level – the web. Since that time, CheapScholar has reached hundreds of thousands of visitors, provided support in the form of scholarships, delivered up 822 informative articles, and traveled the countryside providing Paying For College and Professional Development presentations for high schools, foundations, corporations, and organizations. I truly enjoy volunteering my time and expertise on this endeavor!

The following list of presentations (and pictures) represent just how busy the 2014 -2015 academic year has been. I appreciate the loyalty of our readers, the invitations from various groups to provide informative, engaging presentations, and all of our followers that stay connected via social media. I look forward to another great year!

Paying For College/Financial Literacy Events

October 3rdOIC of Clark County – Paying For College Presentation

October 29thCollege 101 at Springfield High School – Paying For College Presentation

November 6thGreenon High School – Paying For College Presentation

November 10thCollege Apps Course at Springfield High School – Paying For College Presentation

November 13th – Paying For College Presentation for area guidance counselors – Springfield Foundation

November 18thCatholic Central High School – Paying For College Presentation

December 11thNorthwestern High School – Paying For College Presentation

January 7thCedar Cliff High School – Paying For College Presentation

January 21stLondon High School – Paying For College Presentation

February 4thSpringfield CTC – FAFSA Filing Workshop & Paying For College Presentation

February 8thTolles CTC – College Goal Sunday FAFSA Filing Event

February 11thTecumseh High School – Paying For College Presentation

March 10thOhio Attorney General’s Office – Teen Advisory Board – Paying For College Presentation

March 11thOhio Attorney General’s Office – Teen Advisory Board – Paying For College Presentation

March 18thHilliard High Schools – Paying For College Presentation

April 8thWittenberg University (Witt Commit Series) – Student Financial Literacy Presentation

April 9thTemple University (Financial Literacy Month) – Student Financial Literacy Presentation

May 21stCollege Apps Course at Springfield High School – Paying For College Presentation

 

Professional Development Presentations

May 29th – Keys To Successful Financial Literacy – Webinar hosted by Account Control Technologies

September 28th-30thWilliams and Fudge National Receivables Conference, Charlotte N.C. Understanding Financial Aid (for Non-Financial Aid People) & Social Media & Student Financial Services – Reaching Your Audience

March 21st -24thNational Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) Student Financial Services Conference, Atlanta GA. – Understanding Financial Aid (for Non-Financial Aid People)

April 9thTemple University – Student Financial Literacy – Making An Impact On Your Campus

May 17th – 19thMichigan Association of Student Financial Services Administrators (MASFSA) Spring Conference, Traverse City MI. – Understanding Financial Aid (for Non-Financial Aid People); Student Financial Literacy & Social Media – Making An Impact On Your Campus; Moderator, Social Media Roundtable Presentation

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