Archive for February, 2008

Fast, Easy Meals & Snacks on a College Budget


It’s not easy being on a budget and enjoying a yummy, easy-to-make meal. The secret to eating well (and healthy!) without spending much is eating at home-once you start heading out for fast food, your costs can really skyrocket.

But if you’re new to the cooking game (as a lot of college students are) you probably can’t get past the fact that you don’t have the time to cook something fantastic, or you don’t have recipes you can make cheaply.

You’re in luck! I’ve rounded up some great recipes & resources for your-enjoy!

For today, here are a couple quick, tasty snack recipes. You can make these in the dorms with just a microwave and an oven or toaster oven!

Easy Baked Potato

First, prep your potato by washing it well. Poke holes all over the outside with a fork (this will keep it from exploding while it bakes!). If you like to eat the potato skin, too, you can rub the skin with olive oil or a little bit of butter to add flavor-yum!

Microwave Directions: Cook on high for 2 ½ minutes. Flip potato over and cook for 2 ½ more minutes. If you have an old microwave, you might need to repeat this process once more to get the best results.

Oven/Toaster Oven Directions: Bake at 425 F for about 40 minutes, then check. If it needs to be more tender, add 5 more minutes and check again. I like to eat mine with cheese, sour cream, or a little butter in them for flavor. Mmm. Add chili to it and you’ll be really full!

Creamy Chili Dip

This was one of my favorite things to eat in the dorms… but I don’t recommend eating it every day:

Directions: Add one can of chili (I like Dennison’s) and 1 small package of cream cheese (a lite or fat-free package to make it healthier) to a microwave safe bowl. Cover with a paper towel (to keep it from making a mess) and microwave on high for about 2 minutes. Stir. Continue to microwave in 2 minute intervals, stirring each time, until the dip is a creamy mix of the cream cheese and chili.

It seems like a weird combo, but it is oh-so-good to eat with some chips or crackers! (I like Fritos or Wheat Thins with it). Add some apples, on the side, too-they compliment the flavor perfectly. I’m getting hungry already!

Photo: spaghetti on the table by mapelc

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10 comments February 25th, 2008

Bosses Facebook, Too: Keeping Your Online Persona Employable


Have you ever googled yourself, just to see what would come up? Well, you might not be the only one.

A few months ago I read an article about how a LiveJournal blog kept one student from being admitted to Reed College in Portland. I looked a little further into it, and found out that over the past year articles about Facebook & MySpace affecting students’ ability to graduate and find jobs after high school have popped up in the Washington Post, U.S. News, and the New York Times. In fact, my own supervisor told me that he googles potential employees before hiring!

Protecting Yourself

With potential employers-and colleges-able to gain access to MySpace, Facebook, personal blogs, and lots of other information online, you need to rethink the “anonymity” of the internet. Here are a couple ideas that may help you protect your privacy online:

  1. Limit Access. Facebook and MySpace both offer options that limit who can view your profile; they also have options that allow people to view only the portions of your profile that you specify. Most blogs have this option, too.
  2. Google Yourself. Seriously. Run a google search on your name, and see what comes up. Try the other popular search engines, too. If there is anything questionable-that includes inappropriate jokes or anything-try to get it taken down!
  3. Guard Your Words. If you have something to say that could possibly taken the wrong way by a potential boss or admissions officer (or anything that is too personal for them to know), you’re better off NOT posting it in a public place. Instead, keep personal comments safer by writing them in more private correspondence like emails or IMs. And if someone else leaves a questionable comment on your page, better make it private or delete it-just to be safe.
    Oh, and if you don’t like your current job or boss, you might want to leave that tidbit out of your profile. Just in case.

Promoting Yourself

Facebooking college committees and employers don’t have to slow you down-in fact, if you play your cards right, it could even be a good thing. Why waste the opportunity to promote yourself if they’re looking anyway?

Think of your social networking sites as dual-purpose-not just as a place to connect with friends, but also as a sort of virtual résumé. It’s totally fine to have appropriate personal info & photos up to share with friends-your future boss will probably still hire you even if you have a penchant for action movies-but don’t neglect to point out your strong points, and even past work experience (if you feel comfortable sharing that).

You can also use sites like Facebook, MySpace, or a personal blog as a portfolio. If you’re an artist or a writer, for example, consider posting some of your pieces for viewing (unless they’re copyrighted by someone else, like work you may have done for a previous employer). It’s an easy way to offer access to your body of work.

photo: cloak 3 by vivre

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4 comments February 14th, 2008

Preparing for Med School Early: a Pre-Med Student’s Guide


There’s a lot more to applying for med school than just picking out a major with “Pre-Med” attached to it.

Good Grades Start Now. I’m sure you know that your grades are a big deal if you’re applying to med school, so don’t be tempted to give in to too many parties or late-nights when you should be studying. Take your studies seriously starting now-its easier to maintain a steadily growing GPA than to try to recover a bad one late in the game.

Know Your Deadlines. Unlike regular college apps, your med school applications will be due the summer before your senior year of college. In fact, it is best if you apply long before the application is due, to position yourself for the best possible opportunity. Learn how to apply here.

Start Researching Schools. Learning what schools look for and want can help you prepare to be a good candidate. Whether you need to boost your GPA or raise your MCAT score, researching now can save you a lot of stress come application time. The Princeton Review’s annual Best 166 Medical Schools is a great resource (the title could change as med schools are added, so watch for that).

Know and Take all the Required Classes. Just because your major doesn’t require certain courses, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them. Some colleges waive courses like basic Biology based on AP scores, but a lot of med schools still want you to take the class. Peruse the admission requirements of a few schools you might want to apply to, and plan to schedule those classes for yourself.

Prepare for the MCAT by Junior Year. Since applications have to be in the summer of your Junior year, you don’t want to wait too long to take the MCAT. (Your application can be delayed while schools wait to receive your scores). Start by taking a practice MCAT, and then plan to devote about 6 months to studying beforehand. If you think you can stick to it, invest in a preparatory course like a Kaplan course-they can really help you raise your MCAT score. Find out more here.

Make Friends With Your Professors. Med schools require letters of recommendation from both science and non-science professors, so don’t skip out on classes in your liberal arts fields. If you’re not planning to take many non-science or math courses, make sure you do really well-and make an impression on your professor-in the ones you do. Work hard in class, and get some face time at office hours so your professors know who you are, and respect you.

Be Extra-Curricular. The more well-rounded you are, the better (but don’t over-do it-don’t be in clubs just to get the hours). Get involved in volunteer activities, clubs, and organizations that you feel passionate about. Work a part-time job. Get some real-world experience in the medical field, but don’t neglect the wider spectrum of opportunities you have in college.

Photo: Medical Book 1 by lusi

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3 comments February 11th, 2008

My Roommate is Sick, Now What?


Nothing puts a strain on your relationship with your roommate like a continuous hacking cough disrupting precious hours of sleep time. Here’s what you should do if your roommate gets sick.

What to Do for Your Roommate
Chances are your first response to a sick roommate is more focused on you than on him or her. Let’s face it—its human nature to want to make sure you don’t get sick. I’ll get to that in a minute. Now, if you want to keep having a good year with your roommate (and have an easier time when you get sick later on) try to show a little consideration:

  • Ask if You Can Help. You don’t have to do their laundry or anything, but it can really help if you offer to do something little like pick up some Tylenol, drop off a homework assignment, or snag an extra sandwich when you hit the dining hall. Remember, you get what you give.
  • Let Your Roomie Rest. Trust me on this—if your roommate doesn’t get all the rest he/she needs, that horrible nose-blowing at 3 a.m. is going to last a lot longer. If your sick roomie is trying to sleep, keep your headphones on, turn the TV off, and meet your friends somewhere else.

What to Do for You (or How to Keep the Sick Away)

  • Make Your Requests. Okay, so you’ve been the ideal roommate—bringing sandwiches, keeping the noise down, even buying some more tissues with your own money—now you get to ask your roommate for something in return. Whatever it is that’s driving you nuts—the cough, the lack of hand-over-mouth when sneezing—now you can ask your roommate (CASUALY and KINDLY) to do something about it. Cough drops can work wonders!
  • Keep an Eye on Your Hands. Your hands are probably one of the best places to pick up germs. Keep them away from your face—eyes, mouth, and nose especially—to lower your chance of letting those germs in. It’s also really important to wash your hands, with soap, often, and especially before you eat or after you touch anything you share (computer, TV remote, etc).
  • Strengthen Your Immune System. There are a lot of ways to keep your immune system strong, like getting lots of rest (no all-nighters right now!) and eating healthy foods (try to cut back on junk food). A lot of people also feel that vitamin C (found in citrus fruits like oranges, or in the vitamin section at the store) can make a big difference. Also, be sure you stay hydrated (and remember that alcohol dehydrates you).

Okay… good luck!

photo: hunter of dreams by filipes

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3 comments February 7th, 2008

How to Get Free Food in College


Honestly, even though I’ve graduated, I still get pretty excited about a free meal. I’m starting to think that feeling never really goes away. So, whether you actually need to get food for free to stay in budget, or you just want a good free-slice-of-pizza pick-me-up, here are a few ways you can find free food on and around your college campus:

Free Food at the Cafeteria
One of the most sure-fire ways to get free food is to put in some hours working at an on-campus cafeteria. A lot of them offer free food as a benefit (it doesn’t come out of your pay or anything). I worked at the caf for about 6 months my sophomore year, and got free food every time I worked-not leftovers, either, but an actual fresh hot meal. Nice.

Student Discounts
Be on the lookout for this any time you’re at a local restaurant or eatery of any kind-especially the smaller non-chain places. One local pizza place down here gives you a super-cheap deal if you show your ID, other places you can get a free drink.

Also, check for student discount coupon booklets. We have a free one for San Diego colleges called the Student Dollar Stretcher.

Clubs, Films, and Seminars
Most people know that the best way to draw a college crowd is free food-I’ve seen clubs offer everything from pizza to boba, and all you had to do was go to a meeting. There are also a lot of one-night seminars or film showings where free food comes in to play-they want the room full, you want a free slice of pepperoni with double cheese-it’s a match made in heaven!

Look Online
Did you know there are actually websites that track free food events on college campuses? One called Hungry Hungry Coeds tracks free food offerings for a random smattering of schools-from Georgetown to UT Austin-and the upcoming free food events. (They’ve also got a pretty funny page of tips about how to get the optimal experience out of foraging for free food at school.)

**update** Wisebread recently posted a great blog article with lots of other ways for college students to eat for nothing. Make sure to browse through the comments there, too–they have some good ideas!

Happy eating!

Photo: pizza by André Montejorge

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11 comments February 5th, 2008


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