(CLOSED) Giveaway: Free Graduation Announcements & Photobooks from Shutterfly.com!

Hooray! It’s Surviving College Life’s very first giveaway–and just in time for graduation!

The lovely people at Shutterfly are offering SCL readers the opportunity to win some fabulous prizes, including:

  • A $50 giftcard good for anything on the site–cards, photobooks, prints, gifts, you name it!
  • 100 of their gorgeous 5×7 graduation announcements, or
  • An 8×8, 20 page photobook so you can put the year’s best photos all in one place! (TWO lucky winners will get this prize!)

In case you didn’t already think this giveaway was exciting, can I just tell you that I took a look for myself, and Shutterfly’s graduation announcements are beautiful! (This giveaway kind of makes me wish I was graduating, actually!) They have everything from the classic, elegant look to a colorful, customizable countdown of the year’s top moments. Check them out!

How to Win

Want to win one of these fabulous prizes? There are 3 ways to enter!

1. Leave a comment sharing your best tip for college-life survival! (It could end up in a future post here, too!)

2. Tweet or share the giveaway on Facebook, and leave a comment here letting me know, and/or,

3. Become a follower and leave a comment letting me know.

Hurry–giveaway closes this Tuesday, May 3rd! Winners will be chosen using random.org and announced next week!

Another Chance

Want another chance to win some a great freebie from Shutterfly? They’re currently running a contest for anyone who blogs about their springtime announcements, so if you’re a blogger (personal blogs count, too!) share your affection for Shutterfly for a chance to win either 50 free cards or a photobook. See their site for details!

P.S. No, I was not compensated by Shutterfly to do this post–everything in this giveaway is going straight to my readers! Thanks to Shutterfly for being so generous!

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8 comments April 25th, 2011 admin
Filed under: discounts deals & freebies SubscribeSubscribe

Cheap & Easy College Recipes: BBQ Chicken Sliders

So, my cooking life was just revolutionized. I mean, if you thought my recipes were easy before, wait until you check out the new stuff I’ve got going thanks to my fabulous (hold on to your knickers, I’m about to sound like your great grandma) crock pot!


I’m completely serious. No wonder moms have been going on about these things for years–they make cooking NO EFFORT. You literally just dump some ingredients in, turn it on, and walk away.

And you can pick one up for under $20 at Target or Walmart.

Here’s your first recipe.

BBQ Chicken Sliders

2 chicken breasts (can be frozen)
1 bottle BBQ sauce

1. Fill crock pot about 1/2 way full with water and place chicken breasts inside. (You can even put them in frozen!)
2. Cook on high for 3 hours.
3. Dump out water and shred chicken.
4. Put shredded chicken back in crock pot with BBQ sauce (use a lot if you like a lot or a little if you’re just looking for some flavor) and heat on Low or Warm setting for 30 minutes to an hour.
5. Slice rolls and spoon BBQ chicken onto them. Yum!

Makes 9-12 sliders.


– Don’t open the lid of your crock pot during cook time; it will release steam. Moisture is one of the key parts of getting that yummy slow-cooked flavor.

– We spring for our favorite rolls, King’s Hawaiian Rolls. The roll quality will make a difference in how yummy (or not) your slider experience is. 😉

– I usually do a super easy (& cheap) fruit salad with this: 2 bananas (sliced), 1 can of mandarin oranges (drained), and 1 can of pineapple (drained).

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Add comment April 22nd, 2011 admin
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Spring Break: 7 Quirky Spots to Roadtrip

I’m all for fun in the sun, but when I recently read College Candy’s spring break article suggesting that you skip the beach this year, it got me thinking. Spring break sur la plage may let you work on your tan, but there’s nothing like taking a crazy, kitschy road trip to liven up your “What I Did on My Spring Break” storyline. Here are some funky alternatives to the typical beach-bum break.

Graceland (http://www.elvis.com/graceland/) is a sight whether or not you’re an avid Elvis fan. Visit his personal home, learn some rock and roll history, and hey, pick up a T-shirt to prove you were really there. 😉

Dollywood (http://www.dollywood.com/) is another hot spot for music lovers (well, Dolly lovers, anyway), but it isn’t just about the music–Dollywood also has it’s own roller coasters, festivals, and even a water park.

Madonna Inn (http://www.madonnainn.com/) is famous for it’s waterfall urinal and 109 uniquely vintage-kitschy themed rooms, like the cave room, which looks to be made entirely of rock. (And if you need the kinks worked out after sleeping in a cave, they have an on-site spa, too.)

Solvang (http://www.solvangusa.com/) is a little slice of Europe in southern California. A Danish-style “village,” it has quirky old-European style hotels, lots of pastries, and a unique shopping experience. Definitely a cute and giggle-worthy vacation spot.

Hearst Castle (http://www.hearstcastle.org/), pictured above, is an extraordinary “castle” built as a seaside getaway by media baron William Randolph Hearst in the early 1900’s. Take one of four tours of the insanely gaudy-but-fascinating house, but try to resist jumping into the indoor pool. 😉

The Wigwam Motel (http://www.wigwammotel.com/) in CA or Teepee Motel in TX (http://www.teepeemotel.net/about.html) give you what is probably your first chance to stay in a hotel shaped like a teepee–that should make for some good photo-ops.

The Biltmore (http://www.biltmore.com/) touts itself as “America’s largest home,” this castle style house in Asheville, NC has amazing gardens, an incredible house tour, a farm, and more. You can even stay on the estate if you’re willing to pony up and pay the price.

This last one may not be quirky, but it is an excellent spot for a week-long (or even just a weekend) trip. I went for a few days before my Junior year of college, and I will never forget it!

New York City (http://www.nycgo.com/) is the perfect collision of culture and history. Take in a Broadway show, explore the ins and outs of Chinatown, and shop (or daydream) at Tiffany’s. Then take in the historical side of the Big Apple by visiting historical icons like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the NY library. The list, obviously, goes on and on. My best tip for NY travel? Grab some friends and look on travel sites like Priceline–you could split a really nice suite for a pretty good price. Why not live in style for a few days–especially if you can do it on a budget?


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Add comment April 19th, 2011 admin
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Get Free Help with the FAFSA (No Catch!)

It’s a brand new year, and that means its time to apply for financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (a.k.a. the FAFSA).

Stomach already churning at the thought of filling out a form with lots of numbers?

Fear not–I’ve got a great freebie that will help you get the form filled out and filed ASAP (and that’s good, because many scholarships and grants are given out on a first-come, first-served basis… You need to get going!)

Free Help with My FAFSA Assistant

You might remember that over the past few years Deborah Fox, founder of Fox College Funding (college funding expert and author of SCL’s sister site the Pay for College Blog) has created a series of video tutorials for the FAFSA called My FAFSA Assistant. These tutorials are all FREE.

Her videos will walk you through the filing process step-by-step (which is really helpful because even after 4+ years of filing, I still find the FAFSA super confusing!). Plus, Deborah shares tips and shortcuts to help you finish the form faster and hopefully help you ensure your maximum aid award–sweet!

No Catch, Seriously

I’ve worked with Deborah for years, and I’ll share a personal guarantee that (1) the tutorials are really, truly no-cost–100% free, and (2) your information will be kept personal and confidential, and won’t be used to contact you.

I’ve personally seen how helpful Deborah’s expertise can be, so you can bet I’ll not only be sharing these tutorials with my friends and family, but also plan to use the videos myself to file the FAFSA this year (yes, you even have to file for graduate and medical school–boo!).

So gather your info, check out the videos at MyFAFSAAssistant.org, and get your FAFSA filed ASAP!

p.s. Don’t forget–the website you should visit to actually file the FAFSA is http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.

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1 comment February 1st, 2011 admin
Filed under: academics SubscribeSubscribe

5 Secrets to Getting Up for Class

At the beginning of the school year I posted a poll that let you share your top dreads about the back-to-class months. Coming in at #2 (trailing only 1% behind HOMEWORK itself) was having to get up for class.

I’m with you–it’s the worst! There is something really hard about rolling out of bed with only the prospect of class to look forward to. I hope these tips will help you get through the early-morning drag.

1. Schedule Classes Later. First things first: do NOT schedule a class for a time when you don’t think you can be up, ready, and out the door. After choosing an early morning class my first quarter at UCSD (one during which I almost always fell asleep), I quickly learned that I couldn’t make it to class coherent and ready to learn before 9am. So when you’re choosing next semester’s classes, pay attention to the times!

2. Bring a Friend. Scheduling a class with a friend means you are twice as likely to show up, because (hopefully) both your alarms will go off. Chances are one of you will make it out of bed! Getting a call from a friend (or stopping by to pick them up on the way to class) will give you both a second chance in case you hit snooze one too many times (and someone to watch your back so you don’t sleep through a test). Not to mention seeing a buddy is a little extra motivation to get to class.

3. Work With Your Roommate. Got a roommate whose bright-and-early prep practices drive you nuts when you’re trying to sleep in? Use it to your advantage! Consider timing your morning classes around your roomie’s, and get up and ready around the same time (just plan ahead so you don’t fight over the shower).

4. Get More Sleep. I know its hard to make yourself go to bed–especially when people seem to be awake and doing something interesting at all hours of the night in college–but going to bed a little earlier will (obviously) help your body get the rest it needs to recharge you for the morning. (Harvard Med shares some tips to help you improve your sleep.)

5. Set Your (Internal) Clock. Our bodies naturally tend toward self-scheduling; they get tired, hungry, etc. at about the same time everyday. In my experience, you can “teach” your body when to be alert and when to be sleepy–but it will take consistency and practice. If you want to learn to get up earlier, you’ll have to force yourself to do it as often as humanly possible–that’s the only way to train your body to wake up for 8am class instead of sleeping until noon. (Learn more about your internal clock here.)

And while we’re talking about sleep, why not check out these tips to help you stay awake during class (without resorting to a caffeine regiment).

Photo by Georgios Wollbrecht

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10 comments December 27th, 2010 admin
Filed under: academics SubscribeSubscribe

5 Ways to Save on Textbooks

Did you know that the average student spends $800 every year on textbooks alone (and many students spend way more!)? If you ask me, there are much better things to spend that kind of money on, which is why I threw together this list of five ways to save on your textbook costs for next semester, with some help from our sister site the Pay for College Blog which has several posts about saving on textbooks (among other things!). Check it out if you’re looking to learn more about paying for your college education without breaking the bank.

And now, onward to textbook savings…

5. Think Resale

I know what you’re thinking–I haven’t even bought the books yet, why am I thinking of selling them?

Most students think of textbooks as a “sunk cost”–money you spend and never get back. But one of the best ways to save your cash is to sell your books at the end of each quarter or semester, and put the funds back towards buying your next round of books.

I recommend selling your books online, where you can usually get more than the campus store will offer you for your used text. That said, if you don’t see yourself making the effort to list and ship, take advantage of buy-backs at your school bookstore. Any return is better than none.

4. Talk to Other Students

First, if you can, talk to students who took the class before you and find out whether the class focuses more on the text, on lectures, or equally on both. Some profs suggest buying the textbook for use as a supplement to their lectures, but rarely test on it–you may not need to buy the book at all.

Second, talk to your classmates and see if anyone is up for book-sharing. You could split the cost and have joint custody–just make sure you have a backup plan for those high-study weeks before tests.

3. Rent or Borrow

Renting textbooks has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, and now you have more options than ever. While (in most cases) you won’t be able to highlight or write notes in the margin, you will most likely spend less to rent a book than to buy one. Try sites like Rent-a-Text.com, BookRenter.com, CampusBookRentals.com, and Chegg.com which all claim to save 50 to 90% of the cost of buying the text brand new.

Also, many school libraries keep copies of required texts on hand. You might be able to check out the book for the whole semester, or you may be required to stay in the library to use it.

2. Buy (Not-From-the-Bookstore) Used

The on-campus bookstore may be convenient, but it is definitely not the way to save money. Their used book selection may be cheaper than their new copies, but chances are you can find a better deal if you look around a little more. Try Half.com or Amazon.com for great deals on used books online, check out used bookstores near campus, or talk to students who took the class last year.

1. Buy an Earlier Edition

If you ask me, the the best ways to save BIG on textbooks is to buy a previous edition of your textbook. While the new editions are selling at full price, you can sometimes get a previous edition for half that–or maybe even less. You may have to borrow a friend’s updated copy on occasion or deal with slightly differing page numbers, but in most cases the cash-saving benefit makes that little extra work way worthwhile!

Note: Always check with your professor before buying a previous edition. Most profs are understanding about the need to save money, but for some classes–particularly advanced science courses–you may NEED the most recent version.


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2 comments December 20th, 2010 admin
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