Tag Archives: tips

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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How To Be Prepared For The New Semester

Filed under: College Life, Education, Tips - Angelina
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Sylwia BaranBookRenter Blogger Biography


How you start off a semester in college can be indicative of how the rest of the semester will be.  You don’t want to start off as a stressed out wreck – you want to be cool, calm, and collected. This is why it is so important to be prepared before the semester even starts.

Here are a few ways to prepare for the upcoming semester:


1. Plan Out Your Route

Plan out the fastest and most desirable route to take to get to your classes. Familiarize yourself with the area and different roads in case of any unforeseen issues that may arise during the semester.


2. Create A Budget

Before the semester begins, figure out how much spending money you have (or will have) and create a budget now. Estimate your spending on groceries, books, etc.. You may not be able to stick to the exact plan you create now, but at least you’ll have an idea of how much money you have and you’ll spend smarter.


3. Research Your Classes and Your Professors

If you don’t like to dive into a semester completely unaware of what to expect, do a little bit of research. www.ratemyprofessor.com is a great source that I used to find out what students have had to say about the professors and classes that I was about to start. But, while this can give you a little bit of an idea of what to expect, it’s important to not judge a class or a professor solely on a review before you experience it yourself. Keep an open mind!


4. Order Your Books

It can be a real drag to purchase books after your classes have already began. Many professors may already expect you to have read certain chapters for the second class and then you’re stressing out trying to get the book as soon as possible. It’s best to eliminate any extra stress and simply rent/purchase your books before classes even begin. And hey, I just happen to know a great site with awesome prices from which you can rent your books! Check us out at www.bookrenter.com!
The goal of all this preparing is to eliminate as much stress as possible from the semester as you can. You want to start each semester feeling ready and confident. Prepare yourself for a great semester! Keep an open mind, learn new things, and enjoy yourself.


What are some things you are doing now to prepare for the new school year?

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Staying Academically & Professionally Oriented During Summer

Filed under: College Life, Education, Post Grad and Career, Tips - Angelina
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Serena Piper Blogger Biography





Summer is notorious for college students to “take a break” from school, chill out a little, and relax after having relatively high stress levels. But, sometimes we can get a little too laid back, not realizing that even though it’s summer, we still have homework. Yes, homework during the summer – and I’m not talking about summer school (but that does count too!). No matter if you’re a senior, freshman, junior, sophomore, or recently graduated – it’s crucial to always be focusing on the future of your academics and career, even when you are in need of a serious life-pause.

If you need a little inspiration on ways you can continue to work towards your life goals, here are some ideas:

1. Create A Vision Board

This is a strategy a lot of people in well-known positions use, including celebrities. Get a bulletin board and pin to it all the places you want to be able to go, all the things you would like to do, and pictures of what you want your life to look like. Every time you see it, you’ll feel that little spritz of motivation to keep focused and stay strong. It’s a good reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

2. Find A Support Group

Since you’re on Twitter and Facebook most of the time anyway, put that time to good use and find social groups and accounts to follow that support 20-somethings trying to find their way. Type in a few keywords, such as “college,” “postgrad,” “motivation,” and you’re on your way. Not hooked into social media? Type those same words into Google to bring up a variety of local support group you can join for meetings. You can share your struggles and successes with each other, share resources, and network.

3. Make A List

Create a list of all the things you have accomplished thus far. It’s super easy to get stuck in that rut of negative thinking by focusing on all the things you have to do, things you haven’t done, and things you should have done by [insert age here]. Change this around and make a list once a week of things you’ve accomplished, no matter how small. Tried a new meal at a restaurant? Add it to the list. The little accomplishments will measure how well you’re progressing. In addition, whenever you catch yourself in the rut of that negative thinking, stop yourself and replace it with a hopeful, optimistic thought.

4. Work On A Portfolio

Depending on your major, a portfolio is a crucial piece to have on hand for interviews, or for handing over to a career advisor at your university. A second pair of eyes never hurts, and if you already have one going, add to it, update it, and keep it fresh. Taking a look at it periodically is another great reminder of what it is you’re working toward.

5. Interview Someone With Your Dream Job

Is there someone in particular you strive to be like? Reach out to interview them, find out how they got where they are, and draw your inspiration from your new muse. Can’t get there contact information? Look for someone who has a position similar. Make sure when you ask them about their job, you find out how they stayed motivated. It never hurts to gain new ideas.

Do you have any secrets for staying driven? Share them with us!

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