Archive for May, 2008
Congratulations-you’ve finished (or are about to finish) a year of college! Planning on heading home for the summer?
Dealing with Parents
Every parent has a different reaction to watching their child go off to college-and an equally different reaction when they come back home for the summer. However Mom or Dad deals, it’s best for you to be prepared to have a couple of conversations with them about how you both expect things to work out.
If your parents seem to be slipping back into thinking you’re still in high school, you might want to sit down and compromise on some updated house rules. After a year on your own, you probably don’t need to be woken up, and you might feel resistant to a curfew, but you also need to take into account that Mom & Dad are giving you free food and rent.
Bottom Line: Living at home involves some give-and-take from both sides, so be willing to compromise. If your parents insist on a curfew, try to get one you both feel is reasonable. Work out house rules so that you all feel respected as adults.
Getting a Summer Job
Every summer the job market is flooded with college kids looking for summer work, so the sooner you can get into the market, the better! It’s a good idea to have family or friends back home keep an eye out for possible jobs for you even before you get out of school.
These ideas about making money over break and the Pay for College Blog’s winter break job ideas might be helpful, too!
Bottom Line: However you choose to spend your summer, don’t miss out on this opportunity to build up some more cash for the next school year (or your future) while you’re enjoying your free summer stay at the comfortable Mom & Dad Residence Hall!
photo: Awesome House 2 by reznor70
May 29th, 2008
The Pay for College Blog just posted an article about how hundreds of students received bad loan checks from their private student loan company, Astrive. This mistake on Astrive’s part has meant lots of students have gone without loan funds to pay for college-AND they’ve had to pay fees for the bounced checks!
This incident got me thinking that since many of you will be taking out loans soon, it would be a good idea to go over the different types you can get. Deborah Fox, founder of the college planning company, Fox College Funding, has provided me with some expert advice on the subject:
Are You Paying Too Much?
Did you know that there is a difference (actually, several differences) between federal student loans and private student loans? Many students don’t get this information, and they end up accidentally skipping out on low-interest options-meaning they end up overpaying at a time when their bank account is still in its adolescent phase. Ouch!
Federal v. Private
Before we even look at the difference between these two types of loans, let’s set the record straight: federal loans (which come from, or are guaranteed by the government) are your best option when it comes to student loans. Private loans – known as “alternative” loans (which come from private lenders or banks that are not guaranteed by the government) should absolutely be your last resort!
The basic answer shows up in dollars and cents: federal loans generally have lower interest rates than private ones and have a fixed rate rather than variable. This means you will likely pay less for the same loan amount when you pay it back. Nice right? Another reason federal loans are a better option is that they have a lot more built-in protections for you (the borrower) than private loans do. (For example, a check the government sends you is less likely to bounce!)
There are several types of federal student loans-the Subsidized Stafford Loan (you don’t pay or accrue interest while you’re in school), the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan (you do accrue interest in school, but the interest rate is relatively low), and the federal Perkins Loan (reserved for students with the most need and at the most attractive interest rate: 5%) are all intended for students. Your school will let you know which ones you qualify for. It’s best to borrow them in this order (depending on which ones(s) you are able to get access to):
- Perkins Loan
- Subsidized Stafford Loan
- Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
If you decide to borrow an alternative loan (one that comes directly from a bank or other lender), be sure you understand the risks and fees associated with it. Check the interest rate and see if it varies, find out if there is a penalty for paying the loan back early, and make certain that you understand all the loan terms. You might want to go over it with a parent or financial advisor to make sure you are getting the best deal.
Student loans are pretty darn confusing, so please feel free to ask me questions–I have the luxury of being able to consult an expert! Thanks again to Deborah for sharing her expertise!
photo: Question mark by JoanaCroft
May 27th, 2008
My food options were few my freshman year-mostly because (a) I was broke and (b) I didn’t have a car. That meant breakfast, lunch, and dinner were either the cafeteria or something microwavable I could buy on campus (so, macaroni or soup in a cup).
Once my roommates and I got into a place with a (teeny) kitchen, cooking became much more possible-plus I knew some people with cars who were into cooking cheaply, too. So grab your Costco card or head on over to your local 99 cent store and get ready to cook up some good meals that won’t cost you much.
Fresh Recipes for Less
Looking for new, cheap recipes? Check out these great foodie blogs for ideas that can have you eating well for a few bucks (or less!):
- The 99 Cent Chef: Looking for something a little high-class? Check out the 99 Cent Chef’s blog-he cooks with ingredients mostly found at his local dollar store, and whips up some really yummy looking food! Plus he includes photos & videos to help you navigate your way through the kitchen.
- Cheap, Healthy, Good: Packed with recipes, links, and cost-reducing-cooking-up-a-storm recipes, Cheap, Healthy, Good is a great resource for new “chefs”-plus it will make your mom happy that you’re finally eating something that doesn’t involve cheese powder.
- Cheap Eats: I’ve pointed you to this blog before-and for good reason. With sassy and humorous writing plus a good handle on finding sales and cheap-cooking secrets, Cheap Eats is just a fun read. : )
Cheap Soup & Bread/Sandwich Combos
Bonus! I love the soup & bread/sandwich combo because it’s usually pretty filling (and that means cheap!). Here are some ideas for easy meals you can put together pretty inexpensively:
- Tomato soup (canned stuff is cheap & pretty good) & grilled cheese
- Chicken soup (canned is fine) & dinner rolls (again, pretty cheap at the grocery store)
- Broccoli cheddar soup & pop-overs (these cost only about 20 cents each!)
- Clam chowder & biscuits
Soup is a great, cheap filler. In fact, you can use it in a lot of other recipes, too. For example, last night I made an enchilada casserole with tomato soup (want the recipe? It’s yummy!), and I love using cream of celery or cream of mushroom baked over rice and chicken–it’s filling, cheap, and easy to make.
So next time you’re in the grocery store, head over to the soup aisle and see what strikes your fancy. Most of them are pretty inexpensive (especially condensed soups) and lots of them have fun recipes on the back.
photo: Yummy Soup by squidonius
May 20th, 2008
It’s hard to balance your health with a busy college lifestyle, but if you’ve ever tried to study for a midterm with a cold, you probably know that the value of your health increases as your life gets busier!
My few experiences with being very sick in college prompted posts about what to do if you get sick, as well as what to do if your roommate is sick. But what can you do to be healthier overall?
RNCentral just posted a great article that might help you out there. It’s called 101 Health and Wellness Tips for College Students, and has some really great ideas about how to make healthy eating and exercise part of your daily routine, as well as tips about illness, mental and sexual health, and even some suggestions about staying healthy while you study abroad.
Here are my favorite 5 of their 101 tips (with my annotations!):
1. Make it convenient to eat right. It’s hard to eat right when all you have stashed around for emergency hunger pangs are Doritos and chocolate. I noticed that bringing home extra fruit from the caf or even just buying healthier cereal to snack on made a big difference for me!
2. Walk to class. I personally think this is the easiest way to incorporate exercise into a busy lifestyle-in fact, I noticed that I gained a lot of weight when I started my desk job, and the only difference was that I wasn’t walking to class!
3. Understand that lack of sleep can have a big impact. It took me a while to figure this out, so learn it early! Lack of sleep not only means trouble paying attention in class or accidental naps during study time, it also really affects you emotionally . Lack of sleep can aggravate depression or homesickness, plus it tends to make you irritable–so get the sleep you need!
4. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with. RNCentral put this under the “sexual health” category, but really this advice applies to a lot of different college situations. If at any time you find yourself uncomfortable–with a topic being discussed in class, in a situation with a roomie/significant other/teacher/professor, or even just at a party–don’t allow other people’s opinions to pressure you. This is really hard, but also really important!!!
5. Put limits on work hours. Set a schedule for work–and really stick to it–but don’t forget to give your mind a break. I usually worked on homework/studying until 8pm (unless I had midterms and finals) and then finished up for the night. Figure out when your mind is most active, and set your work time within those hours. When you start to wear out, know when to take a break!
Check out RNCentral for the rest of the 101 tips.
photo: Blackberry strawberry cherry owen-wahl fruit by robert owen-wahl
May 15th, 2008
Mother’s Day is Sunday-do you have an armful of flowers, cards, and gifts ready? If not, don’t worry! I’ve got quite a few DIY gift ideas for Mom, so start clicking through (or check out my “DIY Gifts for the Ladies on your List” post from November) and see what you can get done in the next few days!
FOR MOMS WHO LOVE FABRIC GOODIES
Little Owls. Is mama a fan of nature, animals, or even wisdom itself? Whip up a couple of these adorable stuffed owls using this handy photo-tutorial courtesy of Moonstitches. Make just one or get ambitions and sew a whole parliament of owls (did you know a group of owls is called a parliament? Random!).
Easy Peasy Fabric Flowers. These cute fabric flowers are the perfect accent to mom’s jacket, bag, or really anything else-plus they last longer than (AND aren’t as pricey as) real flowers! Templates, photos, and instructions are all included-all you need are your supplies and a little bit of time.
FOR MOMS WHO LOVE CHOCOLATE
DIY Chocolate Magic Shell. True chocolate fans know that nothing is more magical than some quick-hardening chocolate sauce on a bowl of ice cream. Want to know how to make it yourself (and try some yummy new flavors, too)? Looks like it’s your lucky day (and mom’s, too, of course)!
“Better Than Chocolate” Body Scrub. Moms probably need a little pampering more than anyone, so why not whip up this easy chocolatey body scrub for her? All you need is a few ingredients, something to mix with, and an airtight container to store the end result.
Homemade Recipes for Popular Candy Bars, The oh-so-lovely people of Chow have made it super simple for you to make dozens of mom’s favorite candy bars yourself. Their easy recipes for popular candy bars make all that mouthwatering chocolatey goodness attainable and fun. Wrap these up in a cute wrapper or box & give Mom a big smile.
FOR MOMS WHO STILL HANG YOUR ARTWORK ON THE FRIDGE
Jewel Case Photo Frames. These easy photo frames are easy to make, easy to swap photos out of, and a cool new way for Mom to display whatever artwork she wants to eyeball this week. They’re also kind to your pocketbook. : )
Ribbon Striped Bulletin Board. Make all that artwork a little more portable with this ribbon-striped bulletin board-it’s a classier display space than the fridge, and might help Mom keep track of bills, phone numbers, and the dates of your finals weeks a little easier.
Happy Mother’s Day to all your mothers or mother-figures!
photo: new players from Moonstitches’ blog
May 9th, 2008
Sometimes flashcards and rewriting notes will get you through a test, but for those trickier questions-orders of occurrence, lists of amino acids, etc.-mnemonic devices can be the key to making info stay in your head for the long term. Here are a few ideas, and remember, the sillier you make these, the more memorable they’ll be!
Acronyms are simply a way to shorten several words into one or a few “words” by combining their first letters. Remember ROY G. BIV, the acronym from elementary school that helped you remember the colors of the rainbow in order? (Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet!) You can use the same technique to help you memorize any list of things, from amino acids to the oceans of the world to the presidents of the United States.
PEMDAS, the order of operations in math (Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction)
Acrostics, use the first letter of the words you want to remember, too. But instead of making a word, they make a sentence with whole words that start with those letters. These, too, are great for remembering lists in order.
Every Good Boy Does Fine., the order of notes on the G Clef (EGBDF)
Kings Play Chess On Fine Green Sand., the order of taxonomy (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species)
As goofy as it sounds, putting words to a familiar tune can really help it stick in your mind. This works especially well for formulas, lists, and processes (like production of ATP, for example). You’ll probably have to sing it to yourself a few times to get it down, but once it’s in your mind, it will be hard to shake!
Example: In high school, some of my friends put the Quadratic Formula to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel”-I still get it stuck in my head sometimes, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget that equation. There are even songs that list all the countries in the world or all the elements on the periodic table!
These work particularly well for names of people, places, and things (and lots of other things if you get creative!). The key is to associate words and names along the theme of the question you want to answer.
To remember who the fattest U.S. president was, I think: Taft. Taft sounds like Taffy. Too much taffy makes you fat. : )
I try to make it as silly as possible!
Commenter Nichole suggested studying at the same time of day, in the same environment as you will be in when you take your test. This technique is supposed to help your mind recall more easily when you get into the test environment. Thanks Nichole!
Photo: Chess pieces by hortongrou
May 5th, 2008