With another semester coming to an end I find myself reflecting on the things I wish I would have done differently. Luckily I am not graduating yet so there is still time to make changes. By no means am I an expert, but I want to offer a few recommendations for making the most out of college.
Schedule Early Classes. A great thing about course scheduling is that you can make your schedule whatever you want it to be. Most students choose to make their school days begin around noon, or 1pm, so that they can sleep in, and until recently, I looked at it from that perspective too. This semester, the only availability for a class I needed was at 8 in the morning every single day, and to be honest, I couldn’t be happier with it. Sure, getting up that early is still really tough, but its benefits outweigh anything that a 1pm schedule could get me. Waking up early lets you not only get all your work out of the way, it also allows you to explore any interests that would normally just be too time consuming. So if you ever wanted to try kickboxing, rock climbing, or maybe even salsa dancing, do yourself a favor, and actually give yourself the time to do all of that. Which brings me to my next point.
Try out new clubs and hobbies. There are a ton of them out there. Whether they’re related to the outdoors, or volunteer services, or even just fashion clubs, they get you out of your room, and into a crowd of people with similar interests to your own. On top of that, they can help you forget about school stress for a while and can get you into those industries you always wanted to work for or learn about.
Stay Fit. This is a really general statement, I know. But doing anything physical will help in ways you wouldn’t even imagine. Staying fit doesn’t necessarily mean going for long runs every day, or even working out at the gym. Doing anything that keeps your body active works for me, whether it’s playing football, rugby, or going on hiking trips, just make yourself sweat every once in awhile. Not only will it help you live longer, and feel more confident about yourself, staying active also helps you relax and think more clearly.
Take at least one class a semester that interests you. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. As an engineering major, I know that classes that you need to take can get pretty monotonous. But it’s always nice to have a class, any class, even one that doesn’t count towards your credits, that just lets you relax and learn about something that always seemed interesting to you.
Don’t just follow the crowd. I know the college cliche is to overwork yourself on weekdays and party on weekends. I know a decent amount of students in my dorm that follow that as a law, but honestly, making that your entire life is really boring. College is what you make of it, not what people tell you about it. People will tell you that college is a time to try new things, and meet new people, but that does not necessarily mean work and party. Do it your way, not the way of others.
Stay in touch with campus life. I went to a puppy parade last weekend. A puppy parade. That in itself should make you jump on your university’s website to see what’s being held this week. About a week ago, male students had a “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, in which men actually walked a mile in high heels. From random things like that to cool community service events, a whole lot goes on around campus, so go check it out, you never know what you might find.
Remember how quickly high school flew by? Well, with more responsibility and opportunities, you can bet that college will come and go even faster. You don’t want to be walking across the stage on graduation day wishing you could do things differently. What advice would you give yourself as a freshman?
It’s no secret that college students have to stretch every penny. We have to worry about covering tuition, housing expenses and food, all while trying to have enough spending money to live it up during the best four years of our life. But with all of the loyalty programs and rewards cards that businesses offer, it is also very easy to cut corners and score a free meal every once in a while. I have narrowed down the top five programs that I feel give you the best bang for your buck. Check them out:
5. Kroger Plus Card
Do you buy groceries and gasoline? If the answer is yes, then you should definitely have a Kroger Plus card. It gets you great discounts on groceries, and actually allows you to go online before shopping and pre-load coupons straight to your card so that you save even more money. Even better, you don’t actually have to keep up with that pesky piece of plastic anymore. Just type in your “alternative ID,” (the phone number associated with the card), and start saving money! In addition to great savings on groceries, you also earn 1 point for every dollar spent, which goes towards gas savings. This card will do nothing but save you money on food and groceries, which seems like a pretty good deal to me!
4. CVS ExtraCare Rewards
Although drugstores are typically known for offering overpriced products, the CVS ExtraCare card mitigates that stereotype by offering customers great discounts and coupons on a variety of products. This card personalizes the coupons it offers you by utilizing your purchase history to offer you great deals on the products you actually want and need. Not only are you offered great coupons, but you automatically receive the weekly sale prices with just the swipe of your card. To top it all off, for every 10 prescriptions you have filled, you earn $5 in ExtraBucks Rewards! So stop paying so much for those vitamins.
3. Qdoba Rewards
Regardless of whether you are team Chipotle or team Qdoba, the Qdoba rewards card is what it says it is – all rewards. Just for signing up you receive your choice of either a free large drink, or free chips and salsa. After that, all you need to do is swipe your card every time you visit. After purchasing 10 meals, and collecting 1,000 points, you receive a meal for free! You have nothing to lose and only free meals to gain by signing up for Qdoba rewards! Anyone else addicted to their guac?
2. Speedway Speedy Rewards
Don’t let the Speedway name fool you; the Speedy Rewards Card isn’t limited to discounts on gas. In fact, you can actually redeem your Speedy Rewards points online for gift cards to your favorite restaurants, clothing stores and gaming websites. In addition to earning points for every dollar spent on gas, every time you purchase a food item that belongs to a “Speedy Rewards Club,” you will receive that item for free after so many purchases of that item. I always use this card to score a free coffee before studying.
1. eCampus.com eWards
Let’s face it, no one likes buying textbooks. They’re expensive, they’re heavy and they’re painfully boring. But if you want to know what’s going on in class, they’re necessary. Now that eCampus.com has introduced their eWards program you earn points every time you rent/buy/sell a textbook. The points add up quickly and turn into HUGE savings for the next time you need books (like a $25 gift card)! Additional points can be earned just from referring friends or tweeting about deals. Enrolling is super easy and it’s free, so there is really no reason not to. Join me and more than 20,000 other students and become an eWards member and start saving now!
(BONUS: Double Points Days are starting May 29! For one week only, eWards members earn double points for selling used textbooks.)
What are your favorite ways to save money?
Many students choose to go away to college once they graduate high school, while others decide to stay at home and commute. I happen to be one of those commuter students (hence the name “Commuter Crystal”), and I have found many perks to this decision.
Going away for college usually means higher expenses, and I’m not talking about minor living expenses like food and gas. I’m talking about tuition and housing. Take the University of Pittsburgh, for example. If you’re going to the main campus and are an in-state resident, you’re paying anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 extra to attend compared to a branch campus, and that all depends on your major. For housing, it can be anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 to be housed on the main campus compared to housing on a branch campus closer to your home. Should you be an out-of-state resident, you could be faced with an additional $20,000 a year. Commuting from home can allow you to pay a minimal amount of rent to your parents or do chores in lieu of rent. Staying close to home isn’t looking so bad, is it?
After tuition and housing, you have to think about other costs associated with college. Meal plans are expensive, and buying your own food to live in an apartment off campus can rack up a hefty total too! If you live at home, you can buy food and make it yourself, but chances are your folks or a sibling will cook for you. You won’t have to stick to Ramen noodles every night, or cook things in bulk and freeze it for later. As for gas, everyone knows how the economy is today. Living away from home means driving back home for holidays among other things. While this could be great for your highway gas mileage, it racks up a big bill. If you stay at home, you may only have to drive to campus and back to your home.
While there are many benefits to living at home, there are also numerous drawbacks. For starters, you’re living with your parents or other family members. You’re not part of the dorm life, or out on your own and truly independent like you might want to be. Also, you have to travel in bad weather to and from campus. I live in a place where it seems like there’s no fall or spring, just summer and winter. Traveling to campus in the winter is a treacherous drive, and extremely dangerous. In addition, you have to worry about parking on campus. At my university, resident students are allowed to park in commuter lots. If you don’t leave early enough, you can’t find a spot near the buildings. While it saves money, living at home presents other hassles.
Living at home isn’t for everyone, but it is an option that is often overlooked. While you may have to make a few aggravating drives and sacrifice some privacy, you will save tons of money tuition-wise, housing-wise, and living expense-wise. My point isn’t to convince you that being a commuter student is the best option, because quite frankly it may not be for your circumstance. I would just encourage students to weigh all the options before making the decision to move away for school.
What are your thoughts? Are there any major perks or drawbacks that I missed?
We’ve done it again – thanks to you! We were voted Best Website for Buying College Textbooks in About.com’s Readers Choice Awards, for the second year in a row. This makes eCampus.com the only company to ever repeat in any of the College Life awards.
When asked about the award, this is what Matt Montgomery, President and CEO of eCampus.com, had to say, “It is such an honor to receive this award once again this year. We truly appreciate all the support and positive feedback our customers have given us. eCampus.com is the oldest textbook focused e-retailer in the country and we have saved students more than $80 million since we were founded in 1999. We work hard to bring great deals and service to our customers and it’s always gratifying to receive recognition.”
The About.com Readers Choice Awards are given annually and chose by the readers to announce the best of the best. With so many websites available it can be difficult for students to know which ones are reliable, but Readers Choice Awards like this one point them in the right direction.
Thanks again for your votes!
So you’re about to graduate college – congrats! What now?
As the economy recovers, so does the job market, allowing new opportunities to emerge. This is great news for those who are currently in college! However, many of these jobs require candidates to have more than an undergraduate degree. It is predicted that 2.6 million new jobs will be created between 2010 and 2020, and that individuals with masters or doctoral degrees will be the ones to fill those spots.
Many students are turning to graduate school as a way of carving a niche for themselves in today’s competitive job market. Grad school can be a risky bet which could land you in a deep pit of student loan debt, or it could result in a dream job with a six-digit salary. Such a commitment requires a great deal of research, and with the growing number of programs offered it can quickly become an overwhelming process. Meeting with advisers and professors is a great starting point, but most students will want to do some investigating on their own. It is important to gather a wide variety of non-biased information, but with the endless amount of websites, books and blog articles dedicated to “facts” about grad school, it can be difficult to find high-quality sources. This is why I recommend U.S. News & World Report’s annual Grad Guide.
Each year, U.S. News & World Report surveys thousands of programs and academic professionals to create a guidebook that helps students navigate the world of graduate school. For the second year in a row, eCampus.com has taken some key information from this elaborate, 200+ page grad guide and created an infographic to help students streamline their research. The goal behind this piece, as with all infographics, is to take a large amount of information and condense it into a unique graphic that’s easy to understand. Similar to the 2013 grad school infographic, The Good & The Bad in Bad, this 2014 edition highlights trends regarding admissions, debt and salaries for the top five professional fields (Business, Education, Engineering, Health & Medicine and Law).
New this year is a section called the “Virtual Path”, which describes the growth in options for online graduate programs. There is also the option to attend a partially online program, where some classroom attendance is required. Such opportunities are favored among non-traditional students who may have children or a full-time job.
As graduate school becomes a more prevalent option for those holding college degrees, it is important that this decision is made with all of the right information at hand. This infographic should not be used to replace your grad school research, but it is a great way to quickly gather information and gain an understanding of new trends in the academic and professional worlds.
Good luck to all who join me in the pursuit of a higher-education!
To view the full infographic, and purchase your copy of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools 2014 guidebook at 10% off list price, visit http://www.ecampus.com/best-grad-schools.asp or click the above image.