Author Archives: Angelina

6 Foods To Avoid At The Dining Hall

Filed under: College Life, Food, Health & Fitness, Tips - Angelina
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Cameron Tranchemontagne BookRenter Blogger Biography

If you have a college student meal plan, then you know the struggle of dining hall food. Sure, not having to cook the food or clean dishes is great, but you have to choose what to eat from what is offered. At first it may seem like there are endless options, but after a while you will realize that they often provide the same kinds of food over and over again, easily allowing you to get into a habitual eating pattern that may not be the healthiest option. The Freshman 15 is not a myth.

Try to become more aware of what you are eating at your next dining hall visit. Here are six foods that I recommend you avoid for the following reasons:

1. Fried Food

Although fried food can taste good, and it may be in abundance at the dining hall, it doesn’t have any nutritional value so try avoiding it if you can. Did you know a grilled chicken sandwich has about 420 calories and 10 grams of fat compared to a fried chicken sandwich that has about 530 calories and 20 grams of fat? That extra breaded layer really does add up. Typically anything breaded or crispy is fried and should be eaten in moderation.

2. Sauces

Some sauces can have up to 40% of your daily recommended sodium intake in just one serving (and by the way, one serving is often the size of one scoop from a spoon). And how many of us can honestly say we measure out the serving size before dumping BBQ sauce on a steak and cheese or the teriyaki sauce before drizzling it over some rice? Sauces may make something taste better, but they are a source of hidden calories and often can take away the health benefits of food without it.

3. Salad Toppings

Salad is great. It has lots of vegetables and a minimal amount of fat, but the taste can be so bland for most people. If you’re just starting to eat salads or want to trim down the fat in yours, consider avoiding toppings like bacon bits, excessive cheese, croutons, and creamy dressing. Using an oil-based dressing will spread more easily and cover up more leafy greens, tricking you into using less.

4. Processed Foods

Most processed foods like chips, pre-made desserts, and even some breads/wraps can have high fat content and may even contain trans fats, which are much worse than saturated fats and is something you never want to consume. Essentially, trans fats can slow down brain function by disrupting communication between brain cells. They also contribute to cardiovascular disease. If you have access to nutritional labels (which is not always the case in a dining hall where the food is prepared for you), look for words like “partially hydrogenated oils” and stay away from them. It is the one “food” that experts say is not okay at all even in moderation with one source saying it’s more like plastic than food.

5. Soft Drinks

If you haven’t seen the graphic of how your body reacts to a can of coke within one hour, I highly suggest you check it out. Soft drinks contain extremely high amounts of sugar, which your liver will be straining to keep up with and turning it all into fat. Any nutritional value that could possibly come from a soda is flushed out of your system by the caffeine’s diuretic properties.

6. The Same Thing All The Time

Once you have been in school for a couple months, you may notice that dining halls operate on a set schedule. They often offer up some types of food on one day and others on different days, but the schedule does not vary wildly. Though this makes it easier to serve a large student body consistently, it also makes it easy for the student to fall into a habit of eating the same foods every time. For example, there were many meals in any given week when they were serving food I didn’t like or didn’t think I’d like. My initial response was always to just go get a couple slices of pizza. It’s important to balance your meals, and just eating pizza all the time is not that; despite whatever toppings are on there.  Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things at the dining hall. You may find that you actually really enjoy healthier options that you wouldn’t normally consider.

This is not meant to be a strict nutritional guide, but to make you aware of your eating habits. Don’t be afraid to ask one of the employees at the dining hall for nutrition information on any and all food being served in order to better plan out your meals. You have to remember that you’re in control of what you put into your body.

It may be hard to avoid the “yummier” foods, but it will benefit in the long run if you substitute that cookie for a side of broccoli.

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3 Things You May Not Know About Student Loans

Filed under: College Life, Education, Money/Budget, Post Grad and Career, Tips - Angelina
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Sylwia Baran BookRenter Blogger Biography





The very thought of a student loan makes most of us shudder. The complexity of it all, the stress of making payments on time, the debt that we fear will follow us around forever; this is what we think of when we think about student loans. It’s important to have at least a general understanding of loans to help minimize many of these fears.

Here are a few things that you may not have known about student loans:

1. Types of Loans

There are many different kinds of loans out there. Before you can choose the best loan for yourself, you have to get familiar with all of the different types of loans that are available to you. You can choose between getting a federal loan (if you are eligible) or applying for a loan from a private lender. Federal loans can be in the form of a Stafford loan which comes directly from the federal government, or it can be in the form of a Perkins loan which are funded by the federal government but are given out through the universities themselves. The breakdown continues even further from there. Check out this article to learn more about the different types of student loans to figure our which one is right for you.

2. Grace Period

One of the perks of a federal student loan is the six month grace period (be careful, this is not applicable on ALL loans, so be sure to do your research). After graduation, you are given six months before being required to many any payments on your federal loans. This is great because it takes some of the pressure off of you for a few months after your graduation and allows you time to find steady income. Although you are given this option, you can still make payments during this period if you would like to get a jump on paying off your loan. Contact your lender to find out if your loan offers you a grace period and check out this article for some more information.

3. Discounts on Interest Rates

Signing up for automatic payments can save you money. Many lenders offer a small discount on your interest rates if you make your payments through electronic debit. Not only is this beneficial financially speaking, but it also ensures that you will not forget to make your monthly payments as your bank automatically makes the payment for you each month. Consolidating your loans into one payment may also slightly lower your interest rates, but may actually take longer to pay off. Read about consolidating and more ways to save on your loans here.

When it comes to student loans, your biggest tool is knowledge. When you become familiar with all of the possible student loans out there and what each one offers, you will feel more comfortable with the loan that you choose. Loans are not fun, but they are available as an opportunity to invest in education and your future. Just make sure you know what you can handle and in the long run, it could actually build up your credit!

What are some tips you have about loans? Share with us in a comment below!

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Dorm vs. Apartment – Which Is Better?

Filed under: College Life, Living, Tips - Angelina
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Serena Piper BookRenter Blogger Biography





The beginning of any school year comes with a plethora of decisions to make that can shape your entire year. Most of these decisions are fun because there is a certain reassurance knowing we can always change our minds later. Some may be a little harder to make if it’s a decision you’ll be stuck with for a while, such as choosing whether to stay in an apartment or a college dorm. No matter which one you choose, you’ll have to be fairly confident in your decision because you might, depending on your college, be stuck with it for at least a semester. Chances are you have already moved in to where you will be for the school year. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still think about your decision (and maybe change it if possible), or prepare yourself for a change next semester/year.

Living in a college dorm is different from living in an apartment, but which is better?

1. Expenses

The first thing you should consider when choosing where to live, is what kind of budget you’re on. Financially speaking, dorms can be a lot pricier than living in an apartment or house off campus because meal plans and utilities (sharing a bathroom, etc.) are included (and required) in the individual price. Dorm fees are usually cheaper with the more roommates you have, but this can vary upon which dorm you are in and can even still be too costly. Having roommates in an apartment can help reduce rent too, but usually this is still a cheaper option overall since you can all share costs of utilities, groceries, etc. However, the biggest difference in cost with an apartment and a dorm is usually when payments have to be made. Typically, living in a dorm requires payment in full upfront, while an apartment generally expects smaller payments each month throughout your stay. In order to make a payment for a dorm, you will likely either need to have saved up, have earned a grant/scholarship, or will need to pay the costs with a student loan. To pay for an apartment, you should have a part-time job to allow you to make these monthly payments.

2. Freedom

Living in an apartment does generally allow more freedom. You can decide what you eat each day (and not have to stick to what the dining hall offers) and what time (dining halls are not usually open 24 hours), you can have anyone over (some dorms are gender restricted), and typically apartments have less regulations than dorms (no quiet hours, different policies on what items are allowed, etc). However, with more freedom comes more responsibility.

3. Personal Life

Aside from the fact that I just couldn’t afford to live in a dorm, the main reason I chose to live off campus was to separate my school life from my personal life. I liked being able to leave school grounds at the end of my classes. The separation of my personal life from school life meant I could go home at the end of the day and not feel like I had to socialize if I didn’t want to. It’s a different experience to live on-campus and be in the middle of the college buzz 24/7, but some people prefer to have that experience.

4. Roommates

Most college students cannot afford to live alone. In dorms, roommates are generally assigned to you without ever having any idea of who they are, what they’re like, or if you’ll get along. Some schools allow you to make roommate requests, but freshmen especially are usually paired up since they may not already have friends at the school. Apartment life requires you to find your own roommates, which allows you the opportunity to find someone with your similar living habits and interests.

If you’re still having trouble deciding, make a pros and cons list for each option, or seek the opinions of friends and family. The more input you receive from those who have been there, the more assured you’ll feel about your final choice. Some college students even feel like they want to experience both the dorm-life and apartment-life and decide to live in the dorms for the first couple of years of college, and then get an apartment off-campus with some close friends. When you realize what experience and lifestyle you want, you will easily be able to decide what is best for you.

Do you live in a dorm or an apartment? What do you like best about it? Share your experience with us in a comment!

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5 Secrets To Back-To-School Success

Filed under: College Life, Education, Tips - Angelina
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Serena Piper Blogger Biography





A new semester is upon us. If you’re like me, you look forward to the start of a new year, new classes, and a new chance at starting off on the right foot. Usually, we promise ourselves we’ll do better this time – we’ll study more, not go out as much, and maybe even meet with our professor (if we have to).

Sometimes goals like these can seem overwhelming after we get into the first few weeks of a new semester when things become less important, and we expect less of ourselves. But there are a few tips that might help your goal(s) seem easier and help you achieve back-to-school success.

1. Minimize Distractions

When it comes to where you’ll study, try not to isolate yourself to your bedroom. It’s good to separate your study area from your living area to restrain yourself from distractions and to maintain focus. Pick a quiet study spot, like the library. If it’s not quiet enough, bring earplugs or headphones to study while listening to music (unless this can become a distraction). Put your phone away in your backpack, too. As they say, out of sight out of mind. When you’re studying, the less distractions available around you, the more you will accomplish.

2. Find Inspiration

Take notice of who in your class is smart, volunteers, asks questions, sits up front, etc. Try to emulate that. If they don’t have their phone out, don’t have yours out. Seeing other students so focused on learning can be a major source of inspiration. Bonus: go the extra mile and form a study group with them. I did this while taking a very difficult math class (the most failed one at my university) and I passed by the miracle of studying with a group of girls determined to also pass.

3. Download Apps

Not all apps out there are for games! Use apps to help with your classes, homework, or to get organized. I recommend checking out Quizlet, Evernote, or myHomework. Ask your friends if they use any apps that are helpful for college.

4. Watch Your Stress Level

All work and no play, well, you know the rest. Studying and reading the book for your classes is important, but don’t overdo it. It’s easy to overwhelm yourself and feel like you have to get something done by a certain time. Remember you don’t have to sacrifice eating or sleep to get a good grade. The first week is a good time to get a good reading on how long you’ll spend studying for each class. We all study in our own way so don’t feel pressure to get things done right away. Take time to play!

5. Use Your Campus Resources

Advisers can be very helpful if you utilize them. Most of the time, before you sign up for classes, or even after if you’re thinking about changing your mind, they can recommend a class based on your learning style that will satisfy your requirements. Just ask!

What do you do to have a successful term? Share with us in the comments below!

Good luck this semester!

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Move-In Day: How To Handle The Chaos

Filed under: College Life, Education, Tips - Angelina
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BookRenter Blogger Biography Cameron Tranchemontagne


If you are a freshman, moving into a college dorm can seem like a daunting task. You may have some questions or uncertainties, but rest-assured you are not alone. Hopefully you’ll find these tips helpful to make the transition from high school to college a little smoother. And if you’re not a freshman and you’ve moved into a dorm before, than you understand just how chaotic the day can be.

1. Plan Ahead

Check on the university website to find information about where to park, when to arrive, and what dorm you are in. This information might even be emailed to you, so be sure to be on the look out for any correspondence from your school. The more you know before the big day, the better.

2. Only Bring What You Need

When I was a sophomore, I volunteered to work on a freshmen move-in crew in the dorm I was living. One of the things that struck me, is how much stuff the freshmen would bring with them that they don’t need. If you have a fridge that is taller than 3 feet, then your fridge is too big! Often times universities have certain dorm regulations too that may impact what you’re allowed to bring. And there is no way you will be able to fit 50 or more inches of TV in between you and your roommate’s lofted beds. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Connect With Your Roommate

Not only is it important when preparing to move in to communicate with your roommate ahead of time so you don’t end up with two of everything, but you want to get to know them a little bit. You can usually find out who your roommate is through your school, whether it’s listed on your student account or in an email. This is, of course, assuming you aren’t rooming with your best friend or anyone else you already know. Either way, coordinate with them before you pack things you don’t need, which will just take up more of your limited space.

4. Stay Calm

It is okay to get excited, but try to stay focused on just finding your room, unpacking your stuff, and moving everything in. The first step usually involves going to a front desk in the lobby to sign in with the hall director to get your key. When I was on the move in crew, we would send students in to sign in while we would unload their things in front of the dorm. We then waited for students to come back and tell us which room they were in and then carried their things up with them. Remember, these student volunteers are here to help and may even be living down the hall from you. So, if you are feeling stressed out or uncertain, just remember you can talk to anyone of the volunteers, the RA’s, or the hall director and they will be happy to assist you.

Don’t worry! Moving in to campus can be overwhelming, but just remember to breathe and that this is the beginning of a new stage in your life. Even if you’re not a freshman, a new year is always exciting!

Good luck!

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