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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.


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 For those that don’t know, 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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How Gaming Can Change the College Experience

How Gaming Can Change the College Experience

chemblasterYou may have heard someone talk about the power of play, but chances are you didn’t associate that phrase with higher ed. New research is showing that when people treat life more like a game – and incorporate games into their daily lives, too – they can accomplish more for less. For the college student, that might mean more credits accruing with less time studying and (more importantly) less tuition paid because you’re earning your degree on time or even early. It’s called gamification, and it’s the newest strategy universities are employing to boost student interest, engagement and grades.

Researchers have known for some time that games can have a positive impact on learning in K-12 classrooms with higher ed students largely left out of educational studies. But today’ college kids are the original digital natives so it only makes sense that more schools are looking for ways to use games to motivate students and even teach them.

This is happening now largely because mobile and technology advancements have finally made gamification in education possible. Most students will have access to some form of device with mobile processing capabilities advanced enough to handle today’s games. And these are the same students for whom hitting the books frequently means firing up a tablet. Whether bringing games into the higher ed experience is about creating titles or tracking student habits to gamify learning, more and more colleges are getting on board.

Penn State, for instance, created the Education Gaming Commons to both research the power of games to positively impact the student experience and to build educational games from scratch. One such game, ChemBlaster, teaches some of the basics of chemistry by turning tedious memorization into a more engaging and exhilarating experience that has the potential to keep students coming back for more study time.

This kind of play with a purpose may actually be doing double duty when it comes to helping students conquer college. Science is finding that gaming itself, whether educational or not, can have a positive impact on learning. A German study found that participants who played video games for just a half hour per day had more gray matter in the regions of the brain associated with the formation of memories and strategic planning. Fast-paced, action-packed games were in some cases even better than educational titles at boosting brain power because these types of games promoted faster learning and better data retention in some people.

Outside of the brain case, gamification in education can work wonders for a few very obvious reasons. First, if something is fun people will do it again and again. Staring at the periodic table will put you to sleep. Harnessing your growing knowledge of the period table to kick butt at a bubble shooter is anything but boring. Second, gamification can get a student’s competitive juices flowing, whether that means competing against oneself to rack up points or competing socially against fellow students. In either case the motivation is there to study a little longer and work a little harder.

Don’t expect that tomorrow’s students will be playing their way to degrees, however. Games are still very much seen as an add-on to a more traditional college experience – albeit an add-on that can speed your progress from the freshman 15 to Pomp and Circumstance. That said, the lecture, exercise and test progression that has defined coursework for hundreds of years may finally be evolving. And that in turn may make college easier, faster and cheaper for some as well as just plain more accessible for others.

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Graduates – 5 Tips on How to Write an Effective Resume

Graduates – 5 Tips on How to Write an Effective Resume

interviewWe all want that job. It’s great if you get to the interview stage for one job opportunity, but do you find that you’re not getting there as often as you should be? Perhaps it’s your resume that’s holding you back. You have the experience, yes, but are you conveying this effectively? Research indicates that it takes an average of six seconds for recruiters to decide if you’re right for the job or not, just based on your resume! You’ll need one that will make you stand out. Here’s five tips on effective resume writing.

1. Seek Professional Advice

If you’re really struggling to determine your career objective and find the exact job you’re after, this is often conveyed in your resume. Approach a career counselor for help at your college or university. Most tertiary institutions will guide you on the right path to finding your ideal career, meaning you can expertly tailor your resume towards the specific position you’re aiming for.

2. Make Your Name Stand Out

A lot of people make the mistake of heading their resume with ‘Resume’. Don’t! Your name should go at the top in a bolded print along with your contact details, in a standard print. Include one address, one phone number and one email address. You can also choose to put your qualification next to your name, for example, ‘Ann Smith B.Sc.’

3. Decide if You Will Include an Objective

Recruiters are divided on this – some like to see an objective, others don’t. While it may show you have a real purpose, it can also mean you are narrowing your chances by limiting yourself to that one goal. You can decide for yourself if you’d like to include one, but experts say you should only do it if the objective is not a generic one.

4. Have the Right Number of Pages

Your experience should be reflected by the length and formatting of your resume. If you’ve had several years’ experience, keep it to two pages if possible, three maximum. Some recruiters feel that if you’re in your twenties, your resume should only be one page long as you surely don’t have enough experience to justify adding a valuable second page. However, if you’ve interned and worked hard all through college, embrace that second page!

5. Layout is Important!

Don’t add so much information to the point of overcrowding the page – it’s exhausting to read. Use white space to draw the reader’s eye to specific information that you feel is important. Make it a pleasure to read – add bullets, italics and bold fonts to highlight certain accomplishments. Include keywords from the job posting as some recruiters use software to sift through resumes – you don’t want yours to be missed.

The bottom line? You’re selling yourself in just two pages. You must mould your resume into what the recruiters want to see. Something in your resume needs to make you stand out against other candidates – whether it be an achievement, or simply in the way the resume is formatted. Small things can sometimes make a big impact.

Today’s guest article is provided by Francis Benjamin. He is a recent graduate of Evocca College where he studied website development. When Benjamin is not helping his friends succeed in finding jobs after college, you can find him diligently glued to the twitter tips provided by his alma mater (Evocca).

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March (Hunger) Madness: GrubHub Ranks Hungriest Colleges in the U.S.

March (Hunger) Madness: GrubHub Ranks Hungriest Colleges in the U.S.

food, leisure and happiness concept - five smiling teenagers eatNo two things go together better than game day and takeout from your favorite spot. Whether it’s pizza and wings, burgers and fries or foot-long subs and chips, the official start of March Madness means an inevitable spike in restaurant business that only the NCAA Basketball Championships can generate.

In honor of March Madness, food takeout and delivery app GrubHub provided Huffington Post with a ranking of the hungriest colleges in the U.S., determined by comparing the average number of orders per day over the three weeks leading up to last year’s March Madness to the number of food orders on game days. It’s pretty clear that students need more sustenance for picking brackets than they do for studying.

So which colleges were the hungriest? Here’s a look at the top five.

5. American University, Washington, D.C.

GrubHub reported a 16 percent increase in AU orders during last year’s March Madness game days. picked Wingo’s in Georgetown as a top 24-hour AU spot and also one of the best places to get wings.

Although the AU Eagles did not qualify for the tournament this year, the team did participate last year, earning a bid from their win at the 2014 Patriot League Tournament. Ultimately, the Eagles lost to Wisconsin in the second round of the championships, 75-35. But that loss didn’t stop the students from coming in fifth for hunger.

4. Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

March Madness game days in 2014 meant a 17 percent jump in food orders from OSU students. Unexpectedly,’s pick for best wings in the area went to franchise Buffalo Wild Wings, which was also listed as a student favorite alongside fellow chains Chipotle and Raising Cane’s.

The OSU Buckeyes will fight for the title again during this year’s March Madness, which marks their seventh running season at the tournament. Last year, the Buckeyes barely lost their first game in the tournament to University of Dayton, 60-59. Perhaps the hungry students at OSU were stress eating.

3. George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

In third place is G-Dubya with a 20 percent game-day order increase. Although the Colonials have never made it to the NCAA Championship, last year the team got the closest they’d ever been (they lost their bid to Michigan State). So why so much food? Just because GW wasn’t playing, the students stayed true and supported their neighbors from American and Georgetown, two of the other universities in D.C.

2. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

A whopping 30 percent increase in game day orders? Hungry Howie’s and Buffalo Wild Wings are listed as the best pizza and best wings (respectively) in the area, but, true to the diverse midwest fare, there are also several Asian and sushi places on the Niche list for MSU best off-campus dining.

The students at MSU are no strangers to March Madness, as this year is the Spartans’ 29th trip to the NCAA Championship.

1. Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY

The number one hungriest college in America boasts a 31 percent boost in game day food ordering. Antonio’s Pizza, Wings & Pasta is the area’s highest rated pizza place on GrubHub, but with 14 restaurants just within a quarter mile of campus, Syracuse students are eating more than pizza and wings during games.

Unfortunately, SU’s self-ban on participation in this year’s tournament will likely push their hungry ranking down, but that doesn’t mean students won’t still be setting up brackets and strategizing outside their home team. No matter if Orange is on the court, basketball fans in New York will be watching.

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How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Post-College Road Trip

How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Post-College Road Trip

RoadTripCollege may be coming to a close, but there’s still time to bond with your friends after you’ve all turned your tassels on graduation day. Many memories can be made on a cross-country road trip before you each set out on your individual journeys. So, pack your bags and your friends, and plan a road trip with the following tips:

Save Your Money

The first step in planning your road trip should be to save money. Think about saving well in advance to the date of your anticipated road trip, whether you’re using a bank account or a change jar. For multi-week or month-long trips, start saving six months before.

Set a savings goal by writing out all of the expenses you think you may encounter, including supplies, food, hotels or campsite fees, gas and any souvenirs you may buy along the trip. Be creative when thinking of ways to save money. For example, cutting coupons instead of paying full price, ending your cable subscription or giving up your gym membership are all viable opportunities.

If you have routine bills like your rent or phone bill, be sure that you have enough to pay them while you’re gone and consider setting up auto pay so you don’t miss any payments.

Plan Your Route

Drive on the most iconic American highway, the famous Route 66, to experience the culture of eight diverse states, including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Learn about the history of each state and make lasting memories along the way.

Consider a road trip that takes you along the Pacific Coast Highway. Discover the sandy beaches off of California’s Highway 1, explore Oregon’s national forests and witness the scenic views along the Columbia River Highway. Let Washington’s wilderness wash over you as you head north, and be sure to visit Washington’s capital, Seattle, at the end of your trip.

If nature is calling, plan a trip that winds through Glacier National Park, Montana. Take a dip in St. Mary Lake, and make a stop at Virginia Falls. Or, head to the Southwest to explore Arizona’s red rock country by following State Route 179 from Phoenix to Sedona.

Use a tool like Discover America’s trip planner to outline your route. And, of course, pack maps and a GPS device just in case you take a wrong turn.

Drive a Road Trip-Worthy Car

If your current vehicle is a gas guzzler or you’re skeptical that your aging car can’t quite make it across the country, upgrade to a new set of wheels. Use an online resource like KBB to compare vehicles, and learn which cars get the best gas mileage. Popular Mechanics recommends the Jeep Grand Cherokee Eco-Diesel, Mazda 6, Chevy Impala and the Honda Crosstour.

Document Your Experience

Document your road trip by journaling in a notebook or online. And, of course, be sure to take plenty of photographs along the way. If you’re bringing a camera, make sure to pack all of your different lenses and plenty of battery packs. Mountable cameras, such as the GoPro Hero, can be attached to the outside of your car to capture all of the sights you see along your trip as well.

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