Tuesday's Tips

Each week we will add a new tip to help you with your scholarship search, college application or funding a college education.

As the 2017 school year comes to a close, we begin our new series of Tuesday's Tips. 

 Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Let's talk about texts baby...text books that is. Books can be a surprise expense in college.  No one expects to spend over $1000 per semester on books that sometimes aren't even used during the course.

Before you spend money on books - look at your options.  First, be sure you will actually be using the books for the assigned class. I once had a professor say the university mandated that he assigned a book but he had no intention of using it, so save yourself the money. If you do need it, try renting. Chegg is a great online store for renting textbooks, as is Amazon.  Both charge just a fraction of  what it costs to buy the book outright and they make returning your rental books a snap. (Don't forget to sign up for Amazon Prime Student and designate WOASF as your Smile charity).

Of course, there is always the option of buying used books either online, from the university bookstore or from a campus exchange page.  This is cheaper than buying a new book, but be sure to check the edition as they are updated regularly. You want your edition to match the professor's so you are reading the correct pages and doing the correct assignments. Also, look as supplemental materials- certain downloads or disks are only available one time so you may not have access when buying used materials.

If you are forced to buy something new, remember to keep it in good condition to turn around and sell next semester.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Today's the day!!! Many colleges and universities have opened their applications including the Common App.  Get your account started today. You can complete the "easy" information in one session.  You'll feel great because you've "started" the application process without having to tax your summertime brain.

Then you can take the rest of the month to write, rewrite and then proof your essay. You'll begin your senior year ahead of the curve and ready to answer the question you'll be asked by every adult you encounter senior year - "What colleges are you applying to?" You'll be able to answer, X University and Z College and I've already submitted my applications."  Interrogation over!

 Get started here.

 Tuesday July 18,2017

College is expensive, I think we can all agree on that. How do we make ends meet over the next four years? STUDENT Discounts!  Don't be afraid to ask everywhere you go. Here are a few great deals:

Amazon Student Prime - gives you 6 mos. of free Prime access and then 50% off after that for four years (or until you graduate which ever is less). This means cheaper textbooks, dorm supplies and video streaming.

STA Travel - Traveling abroad was unbelievably for my college aged daughter through STA. I thought there had to be a catch, but it all worked out just fine. You can also book spring break trips to great destinations. 

FedEx - Want to ship your winter clothes back home?  FedEx offers up to a 30% discount for students. 

Remember you never know until you ask - so ask.  College students are known for eating Ramen noodles, if you get some discounts on things you buy everyday, you could upgrade to cold cereal!

For more discounts visit The Simple Dollar.

Tuesday, June 27th

College Freshman orientation is upon us.  So exciting, so daunting! The next chapter is about to begin.  You can learn so much while on campus.  Here a few things to keep in mind when talking to current students and staff.

What comes in your dorm room (take a picture and measurements if possible). Ask about dorm policies- Are microwaves allowed? Is there AC - if so, does it shut down at a particular time, like two weeks into the semester? What do you do if something breaks in the room - who files the work order?  What are the two things current students wish they had brought with them as freshman?

How long does it take to get from one side of campus to the other?  What are the closest dining halls to your dorm and classes? Can you get in and out in 20 minutes or is this the most popular place on campus? What stores, shops and restaurants are within walking distance or on the bus route.  

Ask about the clinic and how it works; appointments, walk-ins, refilling a prescription.  You don't want to wait until you're sick to learn how to navigate it.

What about add/drop - time frame, procedure? 

You don't know what you don't know until the question comes up. Keep your eyes and ears open. Absorb what the counselors are telling you.  You may need the information later.

Lastly, parents you should be listening and asking questions too.  It's easier to get an answer with the Dean standing in front of you than trying to navigate a cumbersome website later. If there is an online community (or in person one) for parents, join it.  My daughter's school has an indispensible Parent's Facebook page. Check to see if your new school has one too.

Tuesday, June 20th

Graduations are wrapping up around the country and lots of gift cards are burning holes in the pockets of recent grads.  If you are lucky, many of the gift cards are meant to help you get ready for your next adventure- your college dorm! Before you head out to a big box store, read the following - I Totally Blew Dorm Shopping. Once you have figured out the dos and don'ts, and have your list in hand, you may realize that everything won't fit in the family mini-van (if you only have a sedan - YIKES!).  How do you get everything from here to there?

Many colleges offer dorm essential packages that can be shipped directly to the school, you just pick up at check in.  They are usually of average quality and will service your freshman well. Items may be a bit more expensive than shopping sales or using coupons, but it is convenient. 

Another choice is the Bed Bath and Beyond's Pack and Hold program.  Here's how it works- Take your dorm list to the store, go to the registry department and get a scanner.  Then scan all of the items you wish to add to your list.  When done, the list is sent to the store closest to your school and you provide a pick up date.  Upon picking up the items, they are boxed and ready to go for you. No need to go up and down the aisles.  The nice thing is you can shop early while the selection is greatest, and get what you want because they box up your items as soon as you submit your registry.  The other bonus is, if you change your mind, just take the item out of the box.  You only pay for items once you have decided what you want to truly keep. Plus you can use all those handy 20% off coupons at check out.

 

 

Another idea is Wayfair.com.  With free shipping and excellent customer service, you can order items a few days in advance and they will be at school when needed.  Many schools have a mail service that will hold bulky items for pick up. Other stores like Target have many items that you can buy online and then have shipped to the closest store to the college, but items can only be held for 4 days, so you have to wait until almost the last minute and your selection may be limited. 

 

While we are not endorsing Bed Bath and Beyond, Wayfair or Target for your purchases, their programs can be a great resource for college bounds students.

 

Tuesday June 13th

Remember last week, when I said do one thing every day and you'll be well on your college path? So today, let's talk about working smarter not harder. Hopefully you've heard of the Common Application and if not, you have now. The Common App provides a central location to begin your college application process. Hundreds of colleges accept the Common App and it can be a real time saver as you only have to input you personal information once, send one transcript and gather a limited number of references. Best of all there is the essay!  One essay can may be all you need to write and it will cover dozens of schools. Please keep in mind, many schools require an additional essay that is tailored to their institution, so you may not be off the hook entirely. However, the Common App is a great place to start. You can explore the application here and get started on your essay today!

Tuesday, June 6th

Rising Seniors, it's time to prepare! Last few weeks of school? There's so much you can do to jump start your college application process:

  • Ask for teacher recommendations now!  Your great work is fresh in their minds, you'll be the first to ask so they can fully concentrate on you and it's one less thing to do in the first week of school, when they are hectic trying to start their year.
  • The Common App (and many other college applications) is now available. At the very least, you can fill in the biographical information, but you may want to tackle the essay while you still have access to your English teacher.
  • Do something every day! You will have two months off from the grueling student life (okay maybe you'll be laboring over AP assignments or working at a summer job but still, you'll have more free time).  Take advantage of some of that free time by doing ONE thing for your college process EVERY DAY.  Maybe it's a visit to campus (or at least an online search), or writing important deadlines in your calendar. If you do a little bit each day, you'll be done before September even gets here and be surprised at how "easy" the process was. Remember how you eat an elephant - one bite at a time!    

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