Tag Archives: College

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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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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4 Campus Services You Should Not Pay For

Filed under: College Life, Money/Budget, Tips - Angelina
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By Guest Blogger, Kevin Foor

College is expensive. One year of school at an in-state public institution currently averages $18,391, according to the College Board. If you go out of state, that number bumps up to $31,701. Because of the high costs of tuition and room and board, it’s essential that you cut costs wherever you can. In addition to saving money on textbooks by using a service like BookRenter, there are plenty more ways to conserve cash in college – and they come mainly from avoiding costly campus services. Here are four that you should avoid.

1. College Debit Card

You might think that getting a college debit card is a great idea, especially since many schools can load your financial aid directly onto it. However, these cards are typically chock-full of fees, including swipe fees, usage fees, and inactivity fees. Plus, having all that student loan money on a piece of plastic is only going to tempt you to spend it unnecessarily. Your best bet is to get in on the latest checking account promotions or to open an account at a local bank that offers a fee-free debit card.

2. Errand Services

These services run the gamut. You might see signs in your dorm lobby for laundry pick-up, grocery shopping, or meal preparation and delivery. Don’t take the bait. College is tough, there’s no denying it, but if you don’t think you have enough time in the day to take care of these responsibilities yourself, try instituting some time management practices to free up the necessary time. When you’re studying, go to the library or another quiet area so you’re not interrupted. If you’re doing online research for a school project, stick to the matter at hand and avoid surfing the Internet or checking your social media accounts. Free up more time in your day and you can complete these errands on your own and save a bundle.

3. University Health Coverage

Because of the Affordable Care Act you can now stay on your parents’ health insurance plan until you reach the age of 26. Take advantage of that and opt out of campus-based health insurance. This is another unneeded expense and even if your parents ask you to pay for your portion of the coverage, it’s likely to be less than what you would pay through your school plan since many institutions have significantly raised premiums.

4. Dining Meal Plan

I was recently reading a college education website and one student commented that his food plan cost $1,325 for 100 meals. That’s $13.25 per meal. Be sure to run the numbers of a university meal plan before signing on the dotted line. You could save yourself hundreds by eating in your dorm room. Take advantage of cooking facilities and clip coupons to save money on your grocery trips.

You may believe some of these services are worth the cost, but don’t lose sight of how important it is to keep your expenses down while in school. Once you graduate and hopefully find work, you’re going to be responsible for personal budgeting. Save money any way you can during school and start paying your loans back as quickly as possible.

What campus services can you eliminate that are unnecessary?

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3 Things To Know About Going Greek

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

 

 

 

 

Going Greek was certainly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. It helped with my grades (which needed severe improving), it got me more involved on campus (something every freshman should do right away), and it taught me life lessons that I likely wouldn’t have got anywhere else. On top of that, we have a LOT of fun whether we are doing community service or having a social. So if you’re considering joining a fraternity or a sorority, I strongly encourage you to do it. Just make sure you are well informed before you make a decision.

1. Don’t Tolerate Hazing

Hazing is defined as anything that one is forced to do, especially if it makes him/her uncomfortable or puts them in harm’s way. Unfortunately, a good amount of Greek organizations still haze – so be on the lookout. If at any point someone pressures you into doing something you would not normally do, that is hazing. Hazing does nothing to build true brother/sisterhood and usually only serves to amuse older members. What usually starts off as something lighthearted and funny can spiral out of control fast. Don’t let this scare you though! There are plenty of Greek organizations that do not haze and will be more than willing to work around a problem if anything about joining makes you uncomfortable. These are generally the most respected fraternities and sororities on campus and the ones that know how to stay out of trouble, meaning – you won’t join and then be kicked off campus before your four years are up. If at any point you notice or feel the effects of hazing, there are campus hotlines you can call to report it.

2. Paying Dues

For those of you who don’t know, joining Greek life is not exactly inexpensive. Everyone has to pay a set amount of money per semester, usually a few hundred bucks, so that your fraternity or sorority has money to operate. This pays for things like philanthropies, socials with other Greek orgs, composite photo-shoots, the ever important house supplies, and gas for any brotherhood/sisterhood events you need to drive to. Some people see it as paying for having a social group, but this is a rather misguided concept. The best way to explain it is that the more you put into Greek life, the more you get out of it. Which is why the organizations that do a lot more events end up having higher dues. I suggest looking for a fraternity that is involved in campus life, but not so much that dues are unreasonably high for your budget. The great thing about dues is that every year the members have to vote on the approved budget, meaning if you think it’s too expensive you have some power to reduce the cost.

3. Join For The Right Reasons

Did you watch a lot of college movies and TV shows when you were younger? Is your conception of Greek life simply a way to get to the best parties on campus and drink the night away? Well then I’m sorry to tell you this, but that’s not what Greek life is really about. Anyone can get into a party if they know the right people. Greek life is about so much more than solo cups and togas – it’s about forming an unbreakable bond with each other; it’s about making yourself a better person; it’s about giving back to the community; it’s about applying yourself in school, work, and all other aspects of your life. If that doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in, then that is okay, Greek life is not for everyone.

Hopefully you will consider Greek life and try it out for yourself!

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Roommate Advice

Filed under: College Life, Social Life/Relationships, Tips - Angelina
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Serena Piper Blogger Biography

 

 

 

 

Throughout my four years of college, I had my fair share of roommates. From a bank teller who moonlighted as a stripper, to someone I had known since high school and considered a best friend. I learned some very valuable lessons. If you find yourself in the market for a room to rent or a roommate to move in with you, take this advice to heart. It could save you some trouble and even some money!

1. Best Friends as Roommates

I’m not going to say don’t do it, because it does work out for some people to move in with their best friend. However, there are a handful of us who it doesn’t work out for, ending in broken friendships. If you are interested in rooming with your best friend, be very clear about things up front. How will this affect your friendship if things don’t work out? Be sure it’s a risk you’re willing to take.

2. How to Find a Roommate

Craigslist seems to be the most popular method of finding a roommate, but be cautious. Try letting friends know you’re looking and ask them to pass on the word. Or if your university has Facebook groups set up (i.e. UO Class of 2016), post an ad in as many as are relevant. Also, let co-workers know what’s up – you never know what connections will come of it!

3. Interviewing Potential Roommates

When you do find someone compatible, meet up for coffee and talk about what you’re both looking for in a roommate. Be sure to bring up each other’s schedules (no one wants a roommate who is home all the time), whether or not you have pets (damage, allergies, etc.), boyfriends/girlfriends who might be over often, frequency of recreational drinking, and even references. Try not to make it a formal interview, but more of a getting-to-know-you meet up.

4. Roommate Agreements

A Google search on living with roommates will come up with various roommate agreements detailing who does what chores, who writes the rent check, how often overnight guests are welcome, and when the noise level of TVs/stereos should be kept low, among other things. It might be a good idea to draft up something like this for your own peace of mind.

5. Have A Back-Up Plan

Just in case things don’t work out with your new roommate, have a plan on who will move out, if that person will be in charge of finding a replacement, and how much notice will have to be given. It’s not the fun stuff, but it could be important later on.

Above all, have fun with it! Not all roommates are bad. You might end up with a great friend you can cook meals with and catch a movie with on weekends. Keep an open mind, be careful, and good luck!

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