Archive | Academic Life

5 Ways to Prepare Yourself to Go Back to School in 2018

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If you’re preparing to return to school next year, you may be wondering where to begin. Fortunately, attending college at any stage of life has become more accessible than ever before. Although it’s an exciting adventure, choosing and funding your next stage in life is not fool-proof, and some careful planning is necessary in order to put you on the right course. Here are five ways to prepare to go back to school.

Choose Your Study Plan Carefully

The number of classes and degrees offered at colleges can be overwhelming. Simply getting a degree, unfortunately, does not always translate into gainful employment. More than a few students have pursued a plan of study they found compelling only to discover the classroom was the end of the adventure. Before laying down any tuition, create a list of the career fields you find most interesting and why. Be honest with yourself about your motivation, whether it be money, family benefits, or a higher calling. Use resources such as salary.com and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to research the prospects for your chosen field. If you’re able, spend time volunteering or shadowing others who already do the job, and be sure to ask pertinent questions about job outlook, salary, and job satisfaction.

Get Your House in Order

College is expensive, and not just in terms of cash. In addition to your current job commitments, you can expect to spend many hours a week studying and doing the required schoolwork. This added pressure can affect a person’s ability to manage their load, and being unprepared for it can collapse your efforts. Before registering for classes, be sure that your financial status is comfortable enough to allow for a reduction of work hours if necessary. If you’re caring for a family while attending classes, arrange for child care and “backup” sitters in advance that will reliably come to your rescue when school commitments overlap with other ones, as they invariably do.

Don’t Dismiss the Possibility of Grant Money

The notion that grants are only available to the very needy is an expensive misconception. There are millions of dollars in both federal and private grant money out there, a large portion of which goes unclaimed due to a lack of awareness. In fact, almost $3 billion in private funding was passed up by students in 2015. Before paying a cent in tuition, fill out your university’s student funding application. This will allow you to see what federal money may be available to you as a first-time college student, healthcare hopeful, tribal member, or any number of countless other qualifiers. At the same time, do an extensive online search of private school grants particular to your experience and personal field of study, and be prepared to write a few essays on your own behalf.

Consider Online Coursework

According to Independence University, online schooling has revolutionized the way people pursue higher learning. The traditional classroom has always been a barrier to adult students who have work or family obligations. The advent of the virtual classroom changed it all. There are a number of online-only colleges that offer a full range of associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in business, healthcare, IT, and more. Most brick and mortar educational institutions offer many online classes as well, so that students can create the combination of classroom settings that work for their lives.

Compare Tuition Plans

The cost of college has gone up dramatically in recent years, so much so that the US is now the most expensive place in the world to attain higher education. This sobering fact makes price shopping more important than ever when preparing to return to school. Tuition actually varies widely between institutions, so do your due diligence when comparing the bottom line on your chosen program. If you’re aiming ultimately for a four-year degree, consider utilizing your local community college for up to half of the necessary credits at a sizeable cost savings.

College can be a daunting but exciting time in a person’s life. Remember, scholastic achievement is a marathon, not a sprint. It may be your most important investment in your future. Use your resources wisely and pace yourself according to your abilities to ensure success in your academic endeavors.

This article was contributed by guest author Lizzie Weakley.

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4 important dorm tips to make your neighbors love you

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Living in a dorm can be heaven or hell. You can make a ton of friends or a host of enemies. And this can make your studies easy, or incredibly difficult. The fact that you clicked on this link shows that you have an intent to make a few friendships, but as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, that alone won’t do.

You’ll also need to know what to do (and actually do it, of course) to make sure that your dorm becomes a phenomenal place filled with fantastic people. So here are some of the things you’ll want to consider:

Be flexible

Not everybody lives like you. They’ll have different expectations, different wants and different needs. For example, some people might be incredibly extroverted and want to talk all the time, while other people are introverted and desperate for alone time (here’s a chart to help you). Some people might like to party, while other people might like to read a book. So on and so forth.

The thing to realize is that your way isn’t the only way to live your life. Everyone has their own vision of what is right for them. Be accommodating to that. Understand that just because they don’t like what you like doesn’t mean they’re necessarily bad people. They’re just different.

And what a boring world this would be if everybody was just like you.

Communicate clearly

Being flexible does not mean swallowing everything other people do until you explode. That might keep the peace initially but can cause all sorts of resentment down the road. Instead, make sure you communicate clearly and ask other people to do the same -right from the get go.

Do note that ‘communicating clearly’ is not the same as ‘getting angry and shouting’. In fact, raising your voice in the hope of getting your point across is almost always a bad idea as this will cause people to stop seeing it as communication and instead as an attack. And when people feel attacked, they pull up the drawbridge and get ready to defend themselves. That’s not a good place to compromise from.

So if you’re angry about something, stop. Slow down. Process the anger. Then start the conversation from a neutral place. From here you’ll be far more likely to actually get them to understand why you don’t appreciate the behavior.

Try starting with a compliment as it will soften whatever criticism is coming their way.

Realize that we don’t see what other people do

We always know exactly what we did for the dorm, but we rarely see what other people did while we weren’t there. This psychological bias causes us to overestimate how much we believe we did and underestimate everybody else’s contribution. The result is that it’s often very easy for you to feel you’re doing far more and working far harder than everybody else (even when this isn’t necessary true or isn’t true to the extent you think it is).

For that reason, before you start yelling, ask to make a list of all the activities people have already done so far. This will make it far easier to give an overall accounting (and make it clear to whoever isn’t pulling their weight that they really aren’t).

Do stuff for them

Particularly when you first come together, make sure you go out of your way to do some nice things for everybody else to show your willingness to create a good dorm. Do something that you’re good at and that you like doing. Perhaps you like to bake cookies. Perhaps you’ve got a good setup with which you can show movies. Or perhaps you’ve got a car with which you can go pick up stuff before you guys have your weekly sit down. It can also be academic, like helping them with a paper, or just by sending them links to a citation program or some cool new apps.

Sure, not everybody will appreciate what you’re doing, but enough people will that it becomes a good idea. This will give you some goodwill and give people the benefit of the doubt in future situations. Hopefully you won’t need it, but hey. Who knows what curveballs life will throw?

Be careful with doing this kind of stuff all the time, however. It is better to do it occasionally and not turn it into a commitment. Otherwise, people will stop seeing it as a kindness and start seeing it as an expectation. And when that happens, it can often end up backfiring on you.

A good strategy is for you to do different things. And if they ask you do something again, smile sweetly and stand your ground. You’ll quickly remind them not to take anything for granted – particularly not you.

This article was contributed by guest author James Scott.

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Should College Commuters Have Comprehensive Auto Coverage?

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Money is often tight for college students, and for those who drive to school, it’s tough to decide whether a comprehensive auto insurance policy is worth the higher premiums. This is usually a situation where it’s wise to spend a bit more for greater protection. Here’s why comprehensive auto insurance is crucial for college commuters.

Faster Repairs

If you get in a car accident and it’s the other driver’s fault, their insurance must pay for your damages. When it’s an uninsured motorist, the driver must pay for your damages.

This works in theory, but in practice, it can take weeks or months before the other driver is found to be at fault. And if they don’t have insurance, you’d need to sue them and get a judgement against them. With only liability insurance on your end, you would be left waiting to get your car repaired.

Comprehensive insurance will pay for your repairs while you wait, allowing you to get your car fixed right away and keep driving to school.

Protection for At-Fault Accidents

You also need to consider what you would do if you cause an accident. If you’re a young adult in college, you’re already more likely to be involved in an accident. With only liability coverage, you’d be stuck paying for repairs out of pocket.

It will cost you more in premiums to have comprehensive insurance coverage, but paying a bit more per month is much better than being out thousands of dollars because you caused an accident and only have liability insurance.

Coverage Against Irresponsible Drivers

There are plenty of situations where another driver could cause an accident but not pay for your damages. You could be involved in a hit and run where the other driver takes off. Or you could get in an accident with an uninsured motorist who doesn’t have a job, meaning even with a court judgement, you’d have a tough time getting money from them.

This is where comprehensive coverage will come in handy. No matter the circumstances surrounding your accident, you can be confident that your insurance will pay to have your car repaired.

There are plenty of situations where liability insurance won’t be sufficient. For a college commuter who needs their car to get to school every day, comprehensive insurance coverage is a smart investment that will keep you prepared for any potential worst-case scenarios.

This article was contributed by guest author Eileen O’Shanassy.

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Your Bike and You: Maintenance Tips for College Students

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Your college years are a time full of new experiences and adventures. You’re away from home for the first time and it’s now that you’re realizing how amazing campus life can be.

If you’re a biker, or you’re looking for a way to get to campus without using a car or public transportation, a bike is the right choice for you. Sleek, compact, and easy to use, biking can be a great new way to get to know your new campus.

But what about caring for your bike? Do you need to know how to maintain it? If you do, keep reading to learn about simple steps you can take in order to maintain your bike throughout your college years.

Benefits of Biking

Before starting, let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of riding. There are definitely a lot of advantages, but there are three main pros to cycling around campus:

1. Exercise

A little obvious, but exercise is probably the best advantage to using a bike to get around. Just by biking to and from class, or even around town, you’re using your own body as a form of transportation. This is a great cardio workout that lessens the impact on your joints, making it a better choice than running as a sustainable exercise.

2. Competition

Some students are competitive athletes, so they take every chance they can get to become faster and stronger. Biking helps them accomplish this by giving them moderate cardio exercise; it can even be used as a warm up if you’re riding from your dorm to the gym.

If you’re a student who’s interested in triathlons or competitive cycling, biking is a great choice, and with the help of a simple tool known as a power meter, you can keep track of how much power you’re using while biking.

3. Great for the Environment

Biking is also great for the environment. By reducing your use of public transportation or your own car, you’re reducing the amount of emissions in your community. In fact, the Australian Department of Transport and Main Roads has stated that if you bike instead of drive 10 miles each day, you could be saving 1,500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Bike Maintenance Tips

Bikes are like cars; they absolutely need regular maintenance. You’ll probably be aware of most of these tips if you already own a bike, but if you’re getting ready to pick a bike out, these tips will be helpful. Keep in mind that these are the main maintenance concerns; there are plenty more.

Check Tire Pressure, Brakes, and Chains Before Every Ride

This is part of the pre-ride check that you may forget to do, especially if you’re already late for class, but checking your bike may help you avoid a flat tire or bike accident when you’re on the road.

You’re going to want to check your tire pressure to make sure that the tire is firm. Deflated tires can signal a leak or tear in the tire, while too-inflated tires can pop while you’re on the road. If you notice either of these problems, add more air with a bike pump or let some air out, making sure to keep the tire firm.

Brakes must also be checked; to do this, squeeze your front and back brake levers located on your bike. You’ll know they’re working just fine if both sets engage smoothly and disengage once you let go of the lever.

Checking your chains is also crucial. If your bike is clean and well lubricated, your bike will operate smoothly; if not, the gears may catch and cause an accident. You will most likely find any problems before they cause an issue on the road by checking the chains, and it can be fixed by quickly cleaning and lubricating the gears and chains.

Lubrication is Crucial

Lubrication is super important to remember for bikes. Because bikes are made up of chains, gears, and bolts, keeping your bike lubricated is necessary for it to work properly.

But it’s not enough to lubricate on a maintenance schedule. You might find that some gears and the chain may need to be lubricated on a more consistent basis, depending how much you use the bike. Only after riding for a while will you get a sense of when it’s time to lubricate the different parts of your bike.

One word of caution here: do not over lubricate your bike. In fact, many bike repair shops will tell you that many of the issues they solve are caused by a person over lubricating or not wiping the excess lubricant from their bike’s chains. You want to remove as much lubricant as possible because the oil could mix with dirt and grime from the road and can wear out the chain much faster than normal.

Store Your Bike Indoors

Leaving your bike out in the rain can rust out the chain and gears, causing your bike to work less efficiently. While you may not notice the wear and tear right away, it is a cause for concern if you continuously leave the bike outside.

If you live in a dorm room, check with the school to see if you can store your bike in your room. If that takes up too much space, try chaining it up in an underground or covered parking area. This will save you time and money in the long run, so do your bike a favor and keep it indoors.

These are just a few tips; a quick search on the web will show you that there are more tips to keep in mind, but these are the most important for students like you. Just by taking a little time out to care for your bike, you’ll ensure that your bike will always be ready for a ride.

Sources:

1. http://www.ilovebicycling.com/101-best-bike-repair-and-maintenance-tips/
2. http://bicyclehabitat.com/how-to/a-simple-bike-maintenance-chart-pg366.htm
3. https://powermetercity.com/category/other-articles/
4. http://www.vipnormanok.com/fitness-tips/9/Cardio-Cycling-vs-Running.htm
5. https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Travel-and-transport/Cycling/Benefits.aspx
6. http://www.bicycling.com/culture/advocacy/7-reasons-why-cycling-is-better-than-running

This article was contributed by guest author Melanie Nathan.

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Study Like There’s No Tomorrow: 5 Lighting Ideas That Should Be In Your Study Room

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There comes a point in everyone’s childhood when we’re made aware that reading in an unsatisfactory light would damage our eyes. Nevertheless, most doctors acknowledge that there is no sufficient evidence to say that having poor lighting while reading and studying might ruin your vision.

But, what they do believe is that having proper and sufficient light might lessen the short-term effects of reading like eye strain and headaches, and it will make your reading more comfortable and satisfying. Your study environment is one of the critical factors to successfully retaining and learning information – and being able to put it into use in your assessments.

Discovering the best lighting for your study area is not always easy. For a little help, here are the five best lighting ideas you should use for reading and studying.

Table Lamps and Desk Lamps

A stylish and fun table lamp can fit any of your specifications for both function and fashion.  Whether monochromatic and sleek or vibrant and interesting, you’ll find many options for lamps that will allow you to incorporate your personality and taste.

Lamps have plenty of uses other than just looking great. If you find yourself getting sleepy when sitting at your desk, consider adding LED lamps on your desk to brighten things up. You can even buy these online from reputable sites like BlackMango.

Desk lamps are also adjustable, allowing you to move the neck or head in various angles to illuminate a particular area of your desk. They help you illuminate your workspace without brightening the whole room, which is a great plan when you want to study late at night.

Wall Mounted Lamps

If you love reading magazines and books in your bed, a wall mounted lamp is excellent for you – especially if you have a small room that doesn’t leave you space for a bedside table. Or if you need your bedside table for water, books, a clock, etc.

A space-saving alternative is a mounted lamp. You can install it on either the headboard or the wall (depending on your dorm requirements). This type of fixture is adjustable to target light in the direction of your magazine or book.

Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting is another option for direct lighting – but only if you have an electrician on hand, and if it’s in your own house, as dorms won’t allow this. LED MR16s are a brilliant option for light bulbs, as they will discharge a targeted spotlight with an optimal beam angle.

Recessed ceiling lights have evolved into a trendy way of adding light to bedrooms. These lights are best for implementing general and ambient lighting. They can also be placed to emphasize particular features or areas of your bedroom. These lights can be regulated by dimmer switches, allowing you to take full control over how soft or bright you wish the light would be.

Natural Light

Natural lighting is the best type of light for your study room – and it’s free! Natural light has a positive impact on your mood, and especially on your eyes. It helps minimize the stress on your eyes while reading or writing. If you have a window in your room or dorm, try to position your desk near it. The only downfall with natural light is if you’re a night owl, you’ll need another source of light to supplement it.

Pendant Lighting

Pendant lighting is becoming popular because of its flexibility and its contemporary aesthetic. It gives you direct light and is sturdy as it’s fastened to the ceiling.

Pendant fixtures add a fabulous design feature to your room, and they save space on your nightstand for that pile of books you have wanted to read.

Takeaway

It’s nearly impossible to focus your attention on your studies while suffering from reading in dim lighting. As a result, you can have eye strain and headaches. Appropriate and adequate lighting is essential to study successfully.

This article was contributed by guest author Janis Walker.

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Pros and Cons of Using Public Transportation in College

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If you don’t live within walking or biking distance of your campus, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to get there every day. Commuting to school is becoming the norm for many campuses around the country. The two most common options are driving or taking public transportation, such as buses and trains. As cities have worked on improving their public transportation, this option has become more popular among modern students. Here are just a few pros and cons to keep in mind if you’re planning to use public transportation while in college.

Less Expensive

The biggest benefit of public transportation is undoubtedly the cost. You may spend $1 a day or less to get to and from school, which is very little, especially compared to the cost of maintaining and fueling a car. Any decent car will likely cost well over $1,000. Even if you have a car already, you’d still need to pay for gas and insurance, which could run you over $100 per month, plus any fees for a parking pass at your school. When you want to keep costs to a minimum, public transportation is the way to go.

You’ll Spend More Time Commuting

When you take public transportation, you may save money, but it’s at the expense of your time. Since buses and trains run on a schedule, you may need to wait around for yours, and they usually won’t get you to school as quickly as you would get there if you drove. Finding public transportation that fits your schedule can help with this, but your commute will still likely be slower than if you drove, which means you need to plan to leave a bit earlier.

You Can Study or Complete Assignments During Your Commute

That longer commute isn’t necessarily a big deal, because you can get schoolwork or studying done on the road. You obviously wouldn’t be able to do this if you were driving, which means that extra time you spend commuting could result in more free time the rest of your day.

You May End Up Stuck on Campus or Late to Class

Whenever you’re relying on public transportation, there’s a chance you could miss a bus or there could be a cancellation, leaving you either stuck on campus or showing up late to a class. This is why it’s important to have alternate options in mind in case you ever need them. Become familiar with the buses, trains, and other transport that comes and goes near your school.

Added Safety

A simple benefit you may not consider with public transport is that many times it’s a lot safer than driving yourself. Because trains are on their own rails, there’s never a chance you’ll get stuck in traffic. According to The Levin Injury Firm, victims of car accidents commonly suffer injuries like whiplash to even more severe brain trauma. While there is a chance of crashing on a bus, it’s much lower than if you were in your own vehicle.

Even though public transportation has its drawbacks, they aren’t too big of a deal, and the benefits far outweigh these disadvantages. With proper planning, you can get to school without spending much money.

This article was contributed by guest author Eileen O’Shanassy.

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A Well-Rested Dorm Life: 8 Dorm Must-Haves for Better Sleeping

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You’re finally going to college, and your school is far away from home. The thought of living independently, away from your parents, excites you. But while it is indeed exciting, there are some challenges you’ll need to deal with along the way when embarking on your journey to college life.

There will be a new culture to adapt to, and a new bunch of people to meet. Accompanying this mix of excitement and worry is the inevitable pain of dorm living – learning to share space with strangers and give up your most precious privacy. And with your family far from you, you may feel homesick and lonely.

As a result, you may have sleepless nights that could have an adverse impact on your academic performance. In fact, various studies point to lack of sleep as one of the leading causes of a student’s faring poorly in school.

Without sufficient sleep, your learning ability, memory, and concentration drop to a low. Getting quality sleep should be a top priority for all students, especially those living in dorms. Here are eight must-haves to bring to your dorm that should help you sleep better.

Lightweight Bedding Sets

Cramped dorms are usually hot. Covering yourself in thick and heavy blankets is an awful idea to start your dorm life. You may also ditch the idea of using bed sheets, blankets, and pillow cases made of synthetic materials because they trap body heat and cause you discomfort when you are sleeping.

Ideal beds and bedding sets to have in your dorm room, which you can get from reputable sites such as Focus on Furniture, are lightweight and made of breathable materials such as cotton, linen, or wool because they don’t trap body heat and can give you a good night’s sleep easily.

Comfortable Pillows

When choosing pillows, you must choose those that can provide you with the ultimate comfort. Make sure your pillow can comfortably support your head, neck, and shoulders, so you will feel energized and ready when you go to school the next day.

For pillows, there are three different thicknesses to consider – plush, mid-plush, and firm. You can choose the thickness of your preference. There are also memory foam pillows that can provide ample support by molding to the shape of your head.

Cozy Mattress Toppers

Most dorms already have mattresses, so bringing one of your own in your temporary abode may not be a suitable idea. But if you find the mattress in your dorm room to be inferior or too stiff, you can add a layer of comfort by laying a mattress topper on top of it.

A mattress topper can add a significant layer of cushioning and support for your body that can contribute to a better sleep.

Mattress toppers nowadays come in a variety of materials, densities, and thicknesses for you to be able to find your ideal level of comfort and softness. For example, if you want extra support for your back and limbs, latex and memory foam mattress toppers are excellent options.

Electric Fan

According to studies, the suggested room temperature when sleeping is between 60 to 67 degrees. Our body temperature decreases when we try to snooze and these room temperatures can help facilitate sleep.

Although most dorms nowadays have a ceiling fan or air-conditioner in every room, bringing your desk fan or stand fan is still advisable for practical purposes. For one, using an electric fan keeps your room well-ventilated, and secondly, it will create white noise to muffle the sound of vehicles outside and any other unwelcome noises.

Blackout Curtains or Blinds

Harsh light can ruin your sleep by repressing the production of melatonin – the hormone responsible for preparing your body to sleep.

For an optimal sleep, drape your room with blackout curtains or blinds to prevent street lights from getting in through your windows.

Eye Mask

Wearing an eye mask to bed is a prudent option if you want to get better sleep, especially when you have a roommate who likes to keep the lights on late.

For optimum comfort, choose an eye mask that is lightweight, fits comfortably around your nose, is made of breathable cotton, and one that blocks light totally, so you will get your much-needed sleep.

Ear Plugs

Unnecessary sounds and loud noises can hinder us from having our desired sleep. Studies have shown that for a room to be an ideal environment for sleeping it should have less than the standard 30 decibels of sound.

If you go past that point, your mind gets disturbed, which will prevent you from sleeping. Hence, to fight unnecessary noises, consider wearing earplugs made of soft foam to shut out unwanted sounds from your roommate’s snore or loud music.

Air-Purifying Plants

It is certainly difficult to sleep when air pollutants such as mold, pollen, and bacteria pervade your room space. If you want a solution to this problem, consider bringing some air-cleaning houseplants to your room.

Air-purifying plants such as aloe vera and Chinese evergreen absorb air pollutants which cause coughing and sneezing. They are also easy to care for because they can grow in low light and don’t need a lot of watering.

Takeaway

It is important that you prepare yourself before going to college. Remember, your dorm will be a far different environment from the one you live in with your parents. It is essential that you learn these must-haves to bring to your dorm if you want to get a quality sleep!

This article was contributed by guest author Janis Walker.

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College-Age Questions: Should You Get Car Insurance After Moving Out?

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If you had a car in high school, there is a good chance you were on your parent’s insurance policy. However, if you are moving away to college or moving out after graduation, you may need to find your own insurance policy. Here are key points to keep in mind when determining whether or not you need car insurance after leaving your parents’ house.

Will You Be Driving Your Own Car?

There is no need to have insurance on your vehicle if you aren’t planning on driving it. This may be the case if you live on campus or move to a city that has a good public transportation system. If anyone else wants to drive your car while you are away, that person should insure the vehicle in their name.

Are You Moving Out of State?

If you are planning on driving your vehicle in another state, you will need to get your own car insurance policy. This is because insurance companies only provide policies within the state they operate in. In most cases, you have several days or weeks after you move to complete your switch to a new policy.

Can You Get Better Rates on Your Own?

Drivers under the age of 25 tend to pay higher rates compared to other drivers with similar records. However, there may be ways to show insurance companies that you are responsible and deserving of a lower rate despite your age. Getting married or having a good credit score may help you get a better rate on your own than you do on your parents’ policy.

The Consequences are Severe If You Don’t Have Insurance

Whether you choose to stay on your parents’ policy or buy your own, make sure you have adequate coverage. Failure to carry valid insurance is a crime in all 50 U.S. states. You may also be liable for any damages incurred in an accident if you don’t have auto insurance. If you are involved in an accident caused by a driver with inadequate coverage, it may be worthwhile to talk with a lawyer.

Moving out of your parents’ house can be both exciting and liberating. However, it also means you are now responsible for buying car insurance and other things on your own. Taking the time to compare policies from multiple companies may help you find auto insurance that fits your needs and your budget at the same time.

This article was contributed by guest author Eileen O’Shanassy.

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The Benefits of Military Service for College and After

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Many think that, after high school, they have to choose between going to college or joining the military, and that there is no overlap between the two. Yet, here are just a few ways joining the military can benefit both your college experience and your life afterwards.

Helps Pay for Your Schooling

A very well-known benefit for military service is getting help with paying for college. There are a few different ways this is done, and understanding your options can inform you on which colleges you can attend and how much the military will cover.

There are four major ways the military helps with college. Each of these approaches has its own benefits and conditions, so it’s important to plan ahead with the approach you want before joining the military.

  1. Montgomery G.I. Bill: With this bill, and depending how long a person is enlisted, an individual can get over $50,000 to help pay for college. A major condition to qualify for this bill, though, is you must give $100 a month for the first year of service.
  2. Post 9-11 G.I. Bill: This is a newer education bill available to people who have served actively in the military after September 11, 2009. With this bill, instead of getting just a flat amount of money, you get an amount of money matching the most expensive in-state tuition and some extra money for things like housing and books.
  3. College Fund Programs: These programs are commonly known as a “kicker,” where you are awarded extra funds for college. These programs are typically given to specialist occupations in the military and are not available to every member of the military.
  4. Loan Repayment Programs: This program is where the military will pay back a portion of a person’s student loan after they finish college. This acts as an incentive for college graduates to join the military after graduating.

Depending on where you go to school, it is possible that the military won’t cover all of your expenses, but every bit helps. There are other ways to pay for college that can help fill the gaps left by the military, like grants, scholarships and getting a job.

Discipline and Skills to Do Well

College is hard, and many students struggle to focus on school. One major benefit from serving in the military is being able to focus and dedicate to a task for a long time.

That means being able to balance school work with other time factors, like a personal life and a job, without letting your grades suffer. If you struggled doing this in high school, college can be much harder to balance. The military can teach skills like prioritizing tasks and time management.

This level of discipline can also help a lot if you decide to pursue going to college online. One of the many myths of online learning is that it is easier and has less deadlines, but it actually requires much more dedication and discipline. This is because there is often not a time set aside in the day for you to attend classes, forcing students to set their own schedule and plan ahead.

Housing Options

It’s likely that after you are done serving in the military, you might be further along in your life than the typical college student. That includes considering a serious relationship, having a child, and looking to purchase a home.

The military can help if owning a home is one of your goals, either during or after college. For veterans, there are VA loans available that offer unique benefits in buying a home. This includes features like: no down payment, lower closing costs, no mortgage insurance, and lower credit requirements. That final one can become very useful as joining the military can have a major impact on your credit.

If you aren’t looking to buy a home, there are some apartments that give preferential treatment to veterans. That can be extremely helpful in smaller college towns with competitive apartment markets.

Succeeding at School

The military gives and teaches people useful skills and habits that can directly translate to doing well at school. The financial help is also very powerful, which can allow students to graduate from college with little or no student debt. If this sounds like something you want, serving in the military could be a viable option.

This article was contributed by guest author Devin Morrissey.

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12 Little-Known Ways To Save During Your First Semester of College

Image by Skitterphoto, pixabay.com

You’re on your own now (sort of) and every dollar counts, so Offers.com made a tell-all guide on all the best ways to save, whether you’re heading off to college for the first time, or coming back for your final semester. Check out these 12 little-known money-saving tips below, and watch your savings grow.

1. Take an Inventory of What You Have

The first thing on your path to saving the most when heading to college is to take a thorough inventory of items you already have. Check your house for clothes, school supplies, electronics, and home products to gauge what you own. This will give you a clear view in your mind of the items you need and help you prioritize the bigger ticket items with the smaller purchases you need to make.

2. Never Pay Full Price for Textbooks

Most people know about the increasingly ridiculous prices of textbooks, yet they are absolutely necessary to succeed in your coursework. Dodge the overpriced textbooks from your local university bookstore, and use sites like Chegg to get up to 90% off the original price of your textbooks. And if your textbook order is over $50, they throw in FREE shipping. Money saved + convenience? Sounds good to us.

Plus, Chegg offers 30 minutes of free online tutoring through their trial package, so take advantage and get ahead of your studies while you can!

3. Get FREE FOOD (at places better than your dining hall)

Many students would be surprised to learn how many different fast food stops and restaurants offer FREE food if you know how to look for the deals. Offers.com has a comprehensive category section for the best fast food & restaurant deals. We also have a guide of all 100+ places you can get a free meal or perk on your birthday, so celebrate by cashing in on your special day!

Also, to maximize even more savings, check out Offers list of 100+ of the best student discounts and deals, covering everything from pizza to personal insurance.

You can also download apps like Hooked, a free mobile app for college students to discover exclusive, short-term offers from restaurants around campus – often offering freebies and great deals for food.

4. Stream Music for Half the Cost

Being a student has a lot of perks, including deals on many music streaming services. Spotify offers a deal for 50% off their Premium service for students – making it just $4.99 a month – with a valid university email address. Additionally, Apple Music also offers college students a discounted membership to its unlimited music streaming service for $4.99, a 50% cut from its regular monthly rate of $9.99. TIDAL, the newer streaming service with exclusive content & high-definition music, offers a half off discount for students too.

5. Always, Always Look for Local Student Discounts

Most cities and towns with colleges in them have a variety of merchants offering student discounts on items and services. You can find discounts for movie tickets, beauty and salon services, car services and much more. Just do a quick Google search on “college discounts in ____”, and you are sure to find at least one thing you can save on! You can also find great savings on experience, entertainment and restaurant deals through Groupon.

Offers.com has a list of 125 of the best student discounts, organized by category and savings rate. You can find deep discounts on food, entertainment, housing services and more.

6. Take Advantage of Online Coupons

Most people don’t know that there are hundreds of thousands of coupons online for almost every store and item under the sun. An important factor in saving money when going to college is checking online databases like Offers.com to see if there are any deals on the item you need (there most likely will be). There are online coupons for every category imaginable – like tech, clothing, dorm essentials, and more – so be sure to be thorough before making your purchase.

7. Shopping for New Clothes? Check Overstock Stores

If you want to buy brand name clothes for when you head to college, always make sure to check out overstock stores, such as TJ MaxxMarshalls, and Ross. These stores have amazing prices on quality clothing, shoes, and accessories, oftentimes with deals as high as 90% off. (!!)

And if you’re a real fashionista, you need to stop through Nordstrom Rack or Last Call by Neiman Marcus to get the best savings on high-fashion items ranging anywhere from 20-75% off original market price! Shop the best Nordstrom Rack & Last Call by Neiman Marcus deals here.

8. Know Your Meal Plan Options Before You Commit

Meal plans can be a great way to save on food expenses, but every college and university differs, so it’s important to check your options to get a comprehensive understanding of what you are paying for. Use tools like the MyFico meal plan calculator to find out if your meal plan is worth buying or if it’s just costing you more money.

Many schools require freshmen living on campus to sign up for a meal plan but offer varying plans and budget-friendly options. However, some students say that they save more money by making their own meals so make sure you choose wisely when selecting the plan for you. Most meal plans can even be covered by financial aid.

9. Get Quick Cash in a Pinch

Every college student has had moments where money is tight, and you feel like you’re stuck with no funds. There are several ways to get cash to hold you over for a weekend when money is low. Start by selling your old clothes for cash at places like Plato’s Closet & Nordstrom Rack.

If you have any old textbooks or novels that you no longer need, sell them at a discount bookstore. Most college campuses will have multiple book buyer merchants nearby, and you can always sell them at places like Half Price Books or Barnes and Noble. You can also use sites like Book Scouter to enter a textbook’s ISBN # and automatically see how much 50+ online merchants will pay for your used textbook. Amazon also has a book buyback program, advertising that they pay up to 80% of the value of the used book.

You can also sell items like used cell phones, movies, and video games, so get creative and check that old pile of boxes in your closet to get some quick and easy cash!

10. Set up automatic withdrawals

For discipline, set up an automatic monthly deduction from your checking account and increase the amount you are contributing each year. Better yet, some employers offer the ability to contribute to a 529 savings plan through payroll deduction, so if you have a college job you can automatically start saving without thinking about it. The concept of “out of sight, out of mind” will serve you well when in a pinch for money, and will help you achieve a sizable savings account by the time you graduate. If you don’t plan on having a job through college, set aside a portion of the money from your student aid or parents each month, and you will be glad you did!

11. Apply for a student credit card

Student credit cards are a great way to start building your credit and gain rewards like travel points or cashback payments. Keep in mind, this is only a good idea if you are a responsible spender and never spend more on your credit card than you can actually pay back. A lot of students rack up debt they can’t pay back, so be very cautious when thinking about applying. But if you’re a responsible spender, student credit cards are an awesome money-saver. There are lots of options for student cards, and you can choose based on the different perks and restrictions. Some cards offer cash back on grocery purchases, gas and other daily necessities, and you can often score rewards for air travel and responsible spending. To find out the best card for your lifestyle, check out this handy blog on of a variety of student credit cards here.

12. Know the Right Times to Shop

You may be in a time crunch preparing for college, and luckily, many stores begin to offer sales in August for the back-to-school rush. But a lot of the real quality savings begin around October, when the back-to-school chaos has wound down. If you can, wait until October to buy your new wardrobe, and you will see tons of quality sales – oftentimes up to 50% off the market price in season.

You can find all the right times to shop your big-ticket items and everyday essentials on Offers here: What to Buy Every Month of 2017.

This article was contributed by guest author Carson Yarbrough.

 

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