Seven things college freshmen don’t need — and ten they do

This article originally appeared on NerdWalletThose ubiquitous checklists of “dorm room essentials” for college freshmen are filled with items that will be ditched by the end of first semester.

Some parents “go to the store and grab a list like they did when their kids were in elementary and high school and just go straight down the list,” says Lisa Heffernan, mother of three sons and a college-shopping veteran. Or they buy things they only wish their students will use (looking at you, cleaning products).

You can safely skip about 70% of things on those lists, estimates Asha Dornfest, the author of Parent Hacks and mother of a rising college sophomore who’s home for the summer.

What Not to Buy or Bring

Freshmen really need just two things, says Heffernan, co-founder of the blog Grown and Flown: a good mattress topper and a laptop.

Here are seven items you can skip:

  • Printer. Don’t waste desk space or, worse, store it under the bed; printers are plentiful on campus.
  • TV. Students may watch on laptops or on TVs in common areas or in someone else’s room. Bonus: Your teen gets out and meets others.
  • Speakers. Small spaces don’t require powerful speakers; earphones may be a good idea and respectful of roommates.
  • Car. Some colleges bar freshmen from having cars on campus or limit their parking. You also may save on insurance by keeping the car at home.
  • Luggage. If you bring it, you must store it. Heffernan suggests collapsible blue Ikea storage bags with zippers.
  • Toiletries to last until May. Bulk buying may save money, but you need storage space.
  • Duplicates of anything provided by the college, such as a lamp, wastebasket, desk chair or dresser.

Items left behind when students pack for the summer are telling. Luke Jones, director of housing and residence life at Boise State University, sees unopened food — a lot of ramen and candy — and stuffed animals and mirrors.

Jones says many students regret bringing high school T-shirts and memorabilia and some of their clothes (dorm closets typically are tiny).

What Can You Buy, Then?

Before you shop, find out what the college forbids (candles, space heaters, electric blankets and halogen lights are common). Have your student check with assigned roommates about appliances (who’s bringing a fridge or microwave?) and color scheme if they want to set one. Know the dimensions of the room and the size of the bed. And most of all, know your budget. Not everything has to be brand new.

Ten things — besides the all-important mattress topper and laptop — that many students consider dorm room essentials include:

  • One or two fitted sheets in the correct bed size, plus pillowcases. Heffernan says most students don’t use top sheets.
  • Comforter or duvet with washable cover.
  • Towels in a distinctive pattern or light enough for labeling with laundry marker, plus shower sandals.
  • Power cord with surge protector and USB ports.
  • Basic first aid kit.
  • Easy-to-use storage. If it’s a lot of work to get something out, your student won’t, Heffernan says.
  • Cleaning wipes. Students might not touch products that require multiple steps, but they might use wipes, according to Heffernan.
  • Reading pillow with back support for studying in bed.
  • Area rug. Floors are often hard and cold.
  • Comfort items. Dornfest says it could be a blanket or a picture of the dog — something from home that will make the space a bit more personal.

Afraid you’ll forget something important? You might, Heffernan says. But chances are, you or your student can order it online and get it delivered. Consider doing this with some items simply to avoid the hassle of bringing them yourself, and remember that “dorm necessities” often go on sale once school starts.

Do a Reality Check

If you or your student still want to replicate the rooms you’ve seen on Instagram and Pinterest, think about how the room will actually be used.

Once your son or daughter moves in, the room will never look like that again. Opt for sturdy items and be realistic. Will throw pillows make the place look more homey and inviting, or will they be tossed on the floor until parents’ weekend?

Dornfest, a co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, offers a compelling reason not to make things too comfortable. “A freshman needs to be encouraged to get out of the dorm room,” she says. “Anything that pulls you into campus life can be good.”

She’s not advocating a monk-like environment, but rather one that encourages breaking out of routines. College should be a time to try new things and meet people from different backgrounds. Dornfest advises making the bed as comfortable as possible and keeping a few reminders of home. The ideal dorm room is more launch pad than cocoon.

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The article 7 Things College Freshmen Don’t Need — and 10 They Do originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Source: getrichslowly.org

6 Ways I Saved Money On College Costs

Check out this list of ways to save money on college costs. This is a great list!

Check out this list of ways to save money on college costs. This is a great list!How much does college cost? This is a question many wonder. There’s rarely a week that goes by where I don’t receive an email from a student or parents of a student who are looking for ways to cut college costs. That’s why today I want to talk about college costs and how you can create a college budget that works so that you can save money in college.

College is very expensive – there is no doubt about that.

However, I want you to know that it IS possible to get a valuable college degree on a budget!

The average public university is over $20,000 per year and the average private university totals over $45,000 once you account for tuition, room and board, fees, textbooks, living expenses and more.

Even with how expensive college can possibly be, there are many ways to cut college expenses and create a college budget so that you can control rising college costs.

Continue reading below to read about the many different ways I cut college costs. While I was not perfect and still racked up student loan debt, I did earn three college degrees on a reasonable budget.

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1. Take classes at a community college to cut college costs.

Whether you are in college already or you haven’t started yet, taking classes at a community college can be a great way to save money.

Earning credits at a community college usually costs just a small fraction of what it would cost at a 4-year college, so you may find yourself being able to save thousands of dollars each semester.

There is a myth out there that your degree is worth less if you go to a community college. That is NOT TRUE at all. When you finally earn your 4-year degree, your degree will only say where you graduated from and it won’t even mention the community college credits at all. So this myth makes no sense because your degree looks the exact same as everyone else’s’ who you went to college with. You might as well save money because it won’t make much of a difference.

I only took classes at a community college during one summer semester where I earned 12 credits, and I still regret not taking more. I probably could have saved around $20,000 by taking more classes at my local community college.

Also, you are most likely just taking general credits at the community college, so it’s not like you would be missing much by taking classes there instead of a college that has a better reputation for the major you are seeking.

If you do decide to go to a community college, always make sure that the 4-year college you plan on attending afterwards will transfer all of the credits. It’s an easy step to take so do not forget! You should do this before you sign up and pay for any classes as well as to make sure that ALL of the classes will transfer succesfully.

2. Take advantage of high school classes to lower your college budget.

Many high schools allow you to take college classes to earn both college and high school credits at the same time.

This is something I highly recommend you look into if you are still in high school, as it saves time and is one of the best ways to save money on college costs.

When I was in my senior year in high school, nearly all of my classes were dual enrollment courses where I was earning college and high school credit at the same time. I took AP classes and classes that earned me direct college credit from nearby private universities. I left high school with around 14-18 credit hours (I can’t remember the exact amount). This way I knocked out a whole semester of college. I could’ve taken more, but I decided to take early release from high school and worked 30-40 hours a week as well.

3. Take all the credits you can to stay within your college budget.

At many universities, you pay a flat fee. So whether you take 12 credit hours or 18 credit hours, you are paying nearly the exact same price.

For this reason, I always recommend that a student take as many classes as they can if they are going to a college that charges a flat fee tuition.

If you think you can still earn good grades and do whatever else you do on the side, definitely get full use of the college tuition you are paying for!

4. Apply for scholarships to lower your college costs.

Before you start your semester, you should always look into scholarships, grants, FAFSA, and more. You usually have to turn in any paperwork around spring time for the following semester, so I highly recommend doing this right now if you are going to college in the fall.

Another myth will be busted right now. Many believe that all scholarships are impossible to have or it means you have to win a contest. That is just a myth.

I received around $16,000 a year in scholarships to the private university I attended. That helped pay for a majority of my college tuition. The scholarships were easy for me to get as they were all just because I earned good grades in high school and scored well on tests. I received scholarships to all of the other colleges I applied for as well just for good grades, so I know they can be found as long as you do well in high school!

There are other ways to find scholarships as well. You can receive scholarships from private organizations, companies in your town, and more. Do a simple Google search and I am sure you will find many free websites that list out possible scholarships for you to apply to.

Tip: Many forget that you usually have to turn in a separate financial aid form directly to your college. Don’t forget to do this by the deadline each year!

5. Search for cheaper textbooks to lower your college budget.

Students usually spend anywhere from around $300 to $1,000 on textbooks each semester, depending on the amount of classes they are taking and their major.

For me, many of my classes required more than one book and each book was usually around $200 brand new. This means if I were to buy all of my college textbooks brand new, I probably would have had to spend over $1,000 each semester.

I saved a decent amount of money on college textbooks by renting them and finding them used. Renting them was nice because I just had to pay one fee and didn’t ever have to worry about what to do with the textbook after the class was done, as I only had to return them. There was no worrying about the book being worthless if a new edition came out, which was nice! Buying books used was nice occasionally as well just because sometimes I could make my money back.

I recommend Campus Book Rentals if you are looking for textbook rentals. Their rentals are affordable and they make getting the textbooks you need easy.

Read: How To Save Money On Textbooks + Campus Book Rentals Review

6. Skip the high price of living on campus to cut your college budget.

To save more money, I decided to live on my own. I didn’t have the option of living at home after high school and living on campus would have cost me a ton of money.

Instead, I found a very cheap rental house (the house was VERY small and probably could have been considered a tiny home) and was able to somewhat easily commute to work and college from it. I probably saved around $500 a month by living on my own instead of on campus, and I learned a lot by living on my own at a young age as well.

If you can live at home though and want to save money, I highly recommend it if it’s an option for you. You can save thousands of dollars a semester by doing this!

I understand that some are against this because it may impact your “college experience,” but I think most people would be fine not living on campus, especially if it’s not in the budget. You could probably save around $40,000 over the years on your degree by living at home.

How did you cut college costs and control your college budget? How much student loan debt did you have when you graduated?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

10 Things to Know About Living in Miami

Miami: the historic city of sunshine and vice.

Although it’s garnered an international reputation as a famously sun-bleached party town, living in Miami is so much more than that. Is it a constant party? Yes. Does the sun shine all year long? Also yes.

But when you aren’t getting your fill of luxurious libations, Miami provides some of the best restaurants in the country and an art scene that draws collectors from every continent.

Interested in a richer, more colorful urban life? Then hop on the Metrorail to Brickell and come see what all the hype about living in Miami is about.

1. Living in Miami is pricey

This is, perhaps, the single greatest disclaimer that we must make about Miami. For all of its many charms, it’s not a bargain destination. With a composite cost of living index of about 116 according to the Council for Community and Economic Research, it sits above, even if not outrageously so, the national average.

In fairness, the majority of that sticker is attributed to the cost of housing, which comes in at a whopping 49 points above the national average, even though things like healthcare and utilities will generally be as affordable or cheaper than the rest of the country. The bottom line: Miami requires careful budgeting and some financial flexibility.

2. There’s no state income tax

Now, if the cost of living gave you pause, never fear. The state’s tax structure does some leg work to offset the sticker shock of rent. First, there’s no state income tax. The absence of this payroll deduction line item will help you to save far more on an annual basis than in many other parts of the country.

And if that’s not enough, Miami’s sales tax is only 7 percent, which is slightly below the national average and well below many other large metropolitan centers like Boston and Atlanta, which ask 8.5 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively.

miami weathermiami weather

3. It has the greatest weather all year long

Don’t get us wrong, the summers are hot. Most use the opportunity to capitalize on what are widely considered some of the most beautiful beaches on earth with a tropical drink in hand.

And then, consider this: While much of the country begins to layer, stack firewood and hunker down for a long dark winter, Miami is still thriving with highs in the 70s and lows in the 60s. Warm enough to go outside and cool enough to feel crisp. What’s not to love?

4. The Heat are a religion

If you’re considering going to be living in Miami, you need to understand something. In 2010, there was a stretch of time during which Miami-Dade County was officially renamed “Miami-Wade County” after the then star shooting guard of the Miami Heat franchise, Dwayne Wade.

It’s important context because this town takes its basketball very seriously. And why shouldn’t it? The Heat are three-time NBA champions and boast a roster of alumni that includes Shaq, Wade, LeBron and, now, Jimmy Butler. And between friends, there aren’t a lot of other professional sports worth celebrating in the area. Yes, we went there.

5. Public transit will get you there

Miami traffic is very, very bad. Like top 10 worst in the country bad. There’s no way around that fact. But it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Miami makes up for this less-than-super superlative by providing a multitude of effective public transit options.

The Metrobus services a massive geographical region from Fort Lauderdale on down to the Keys. If you’re staying local, the Metrorail has an elevated rail network that connects all of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

If you’re staying even more local, the Metromover is a free service that operates seven days a week in the downtown and Brickell area and accesses popular attractions like American Airlines Arena, home to the aforementioned Miami Heat.

miami beachesmiami beaches

6. The beaches are nothing short of spectacular

If we’re being honest, this should have been item No. 1. Miami has always been and will always be immediately associated with the beach and for good reason. Miles of pristine and fully public beaches make up the entire eastern border of the city.

Whether you’re looking for eternal spring break on South Beach or a more remote getaway on Key Biscayne, Miami has a beach for every speed. Bring sunscreen.

7. You’ll eat well in Miami

Miami is not just considered the unofficial hub between North and Latin America, it exists at the cultural nexus of the world. And this multi-national, socio-cultural identity expresses itself nowhere as conspicuously as in food.

Miami boasts a pan-Latin and east Asian culinary landscape like none other. With celebrity chefs and ritzy hotel bars co-mingling with cozy neighborhood eateries and cafecito mainstays, there are more than enough pastelitos to go around everywhere from Brickell to the Gables. Every year, the “Miami Spice” food festival produces tasting menus all over town by which you can become acquainted.

8. Miami is a Latin American vacation in and of itself

Miami is, in no uncertain terms, a Latin city. Seven in 10 residents are Latin American, and that number represents almost every Spanish-speaking country on earth and their every dialect and sociolect.

It’s impossible to overstate the richness of colors, sounds and flavors that you’ll see and smell while living in Miami — everywhere from Espanola Way to historic Little Havana. The music, food and people will have you exploring rent prices by the second day.

9. Miami is a constant party

Some stereotypes are earned, and Miami’s reputation as America’s nightclub is certainly among them. Miami’s bar and club scene is a $2 billion industry employing 25,000 people and keeping the bass thumping all year long up and down Ocean Drive.

From salsa to dubstep, Miami has a dance hall or speakeasy to suit your Saturday-night sensibility.

miami muralsmiami murals

10. The city is an art museum of its own

Few cities love their art the way Miami does. It’s a passion that starts with the historic Art Deco hotels of Miami Beach and surges through the trendy Wynwood Walls into the summer when Art Basel rounds out its international tour in Miami. For five days, almost 90,000 people come to see art presented by leading international galleries from dozens of countries in the hopes of expanding their collections and Instagram feeds.

Just walking around the city for an afternoon is like a leisurely stroll through your favorite museum. And don’t worry, there are plenty of those, too! From the Lowe to the Perez, there are plenty of traditional experiences, as well.

Living in Miami is an experience

Life in Miami is unlike anywhere else in the world. A booming economic center collides with a rich cultural collage to produce one of the most enriching and quickly evolving cities on earth. Pull up a beach chair, break out the guava-based treats and join the year-round party that is Miami.

We’ll see you there.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Apartment Highlights: Aura Pentagon City

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Aura at Pentagon City is the destination address that proves you don’t have to live in the District of Columbia to be a true resident of the nation’s capital. Your new address is the center of the DC Metro area, including all commuter routes and, of course, the area’s parks, shopping, dining, and nightlife options. A quick walk–just blocks from either the Pentagon City or Crystal City Metro and you’re home!

Choose a beautiful studio, one or two-bedroom apartment home that’s designed just the way you like it, with just enough space for your needs. Apartment homes range in size from 519 square feet to 1,243 square feet and with nearly 20 options to choose from, you’re sure to find a floorplan that suits your life. And our favorite feature; they’re pet-friendly! 

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Aura Pentagon City truly makes residents feel at home. They treat residents with high-end customer service, regardless of the situation. In addition to the wonderful team at Aura Pentagon City, the community amenities are top-notch. Whether you value underground parking, outdoor space, a business center, valet dry cleaning, rooftop pools and sundecks, on-site maintenance, fitness center, and even a dog park for your four-legged friend,  they have it all — and more.  Two resort-style pools, a fully equipped fitness center, and concierge are our favorites! Additionally, there is on-site parking, trash and recycling, and on-site dry cleaning. Can you think of anything missing from this community, because we can’t!

All in all, Aura Pentagon City is our community of choice when it comes to the Pentagon City neighborhood. The lux amenities, stellar service, and its central location are our main reasons why we love it. If you are looking into making Arlington, Virginia your home, Aura Pentagon City should be at the top of your list – we promise you’ll love it!

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How to Get a Virtual Internship

This is not a great time to be looking for career experience. Industries are suffering, opportunities are scarce and most people are working from home. But if you’re in need of an internship, there are still plenty of options to work virtually – if you know how to sniff them out.
Here’s what you need to know in order to find a virtual internship: where to look, who to talk to, and how to make sure your application stands out from the competition.

Tips for Getting a Virtual Internship

Before you start applying for internships, you need to have the appropriate documents. Here are the most important.

Draft a Resume

Students who don’t already have a resume can find free resume templates through Google Docs and Microsoft Word. These templates have clean designs and are easy to edit.

If you want something more unique, you can buy a template on Etsy. Choose a template that you can easily edit in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. If you’re applying for internships in a creative field like graphic design or advertising, pick a template that has more flair and shows your personality.

When writing your resume, focus on the skills you’ve learned and your accomplishments. If you were a waitress at Waffle House (like I was for a summer), mention how it taught you multitasking and organizational skills.

Create a LinkedIn profile and start connecting with people you know. Ask past employers for recommendations and to endorse you for specific skills like Photoshop or Excel.

Work on a Cover Letter

Some internships will require a cover letter. A cover letter should express the value you’ll bring to the company, like how your interests and skills fit with the organization and why you would be a good addition.

If you’re submitting a cover letter for an online application, make sure to use any keywords mentioned in the job description. Some companies use software that filters out cover letters missing these keywords.

Have a parent or adult mentor look over both your resume and cover letter. They can offer you advice on how to phrase specific ideas and remind you of jobs, awards, and other accomplishments you’ve forgotten about.

Where to Find a Virtual Internship

Once you’ve created a resume and basic cover letter, you can start applying. Here are the best places to find a virtual internship.

Talk to Your College

The first place to look is your college career center. Many large companies have direct relationships with universities and accept a certain number of interns from there every year.

Contact the university career center and ask them about internship opportunities. If you already have a declared major, your department may also have its own career counselor who can help. They may have more personal relationships with hiring managers and internship recruiters.

Sometimes colleges have their own internship and job boards, but it still helps to talk to a counselor directly. They may have more resources and can answer your specific questions.

Even though the pandemic has changed how colleges operate, some are still holding virtual career fairs. You’ll likely have to register in advance and choose a specific time slot, so look into these options as soon as possible.

Make sure to follow up regularly if you don’t hear back from the career counselor. They may be busy, and your emails can get lost in the shuffle. Don’t feel bad about reaching out multiple times- this is part of what you pay for as a student and you’re entitled to their help.

Contact People You Already Know

If you’ve had internships before, contact people from those companies and ask if they need help. It’s much easier to get an internship when you already know the people in charge – especially if you made a good impression during your tenure.

It doesn’t matter if the people you worked with have different jobs now. They may still work in a similar industry and need an intern. Make a list of where you’ve worked and all the people you remember. If you’re having trouble remembering names, go to the company’s LinkedIn page to jog your memory and find their contact information.

After you’ve contacted them, reach out to any professors you know who still have direct ties to the industry. They can forward your information or send you links to opportunities they’ve seen.

Don’t be afraid to contact people at companies where you turned down an internship position. Most people don’t take that personally and may still have positive memories of you – plus, getting a previous internship offer from a company indicates that you’re probably a good fit.

If you’re reaching out to professors you haven’t talked to in a while, remind them what class of theirs you took and include a copy of your resume. This will make it easier for them to forward the email to any prospects.

Take your time when crafting emails to industry contacts. If you write an email with typos and grammar mistakes, your email may be deleted immediately. This is especially true if you’re contacting someone you don’t know. They may receive dozens of emails from students like you and not have time to respond to them all.

Look at Job Sites

If you’ve reached out to your networking contacts with no luck, it’s time to look for a virtual internship on a job site. Job sites should be the last place you look for a virtual internship because it’s harder to stand out among a sea of candidates.

Here are some of the best sites and apps to use:

Remember not to discount an internship if there’s no mention that the job will be remote. Some listings may be outdated and not reflect the current situation.

When you apply, check the company’s website and LinkedIn profile to see if you have any personal connections. Having someone in common can help get your application into the right hands.

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