Moving Off-Campus: What You Need to Know

By Stacy Eden

Moving into your first real apartment or house off-campus is tricky, especially if you spent a year or two in the dorms. For most college students, dorm life is the first time to live without the watchful eye of the parental units. And because you have this experience under your belt, you may be thinking that an apartment is pretty much the same thing, right? Wrong!

Your first apartment or house is a big adjustment, maybe even bigger than adjusting to the dorms. You have roommates, the commute to campus, renters insurance and cooking your own meals to keep you busy when you’re not studying. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are the essential hacks every new off-campus student needs to make the transition go smoothly:

Prepare for Moving Day

It’s a lot different than moving into the dorms. For one thing, your parents may not be there to help this time. And while your friends are willing to help if you promise to feed them, don’t rely on anyone to show up out of the goodness of their heart. And don’t expect a rented moving truck to be easy to drive either. If you have big or heavy stuff to move, it may be worth it to budget enough cash to hire movers. It may save you a lot of time and frustration in the end.

Take Inventory of Damages

Take pictures on your phone of every dent and ding in the walls, every little blemish and any other damage in your apartment first thing on your move-in date. Email the pictures to yourself with the subject: security deposit. Landlords are notorious for blaming renters at the end of the lease for small flaws that were already there to keep the deposit. If you have photographic proof that the damage was already there (most camera phones have a photo time stamp), you have a better chance of getting your deposit back.

Get Renters Insurance

Odds are you have some pretty valuable stuff in your new place, like your computer, speakers, TV, musical instruments and gaming systems. Don’t risk what you can’t afford to lose. Get renters insurance — You’ll sleep better at night.

But don’t stop there. Make a list in Excel of all your valuables; include the make and the model, and hang on to the receipt if you can. Also take a picture of where each high-ticket item usually is in your house or apartment. This makes it easier to file a report with police and put in a claim with the insurance company if you need to.

Pay Rent on Time

Late fees kill your summer savings. It can be tough to get that check to the front office or in the mail every month when you have classes, tests and a social life to think about. But this is one place where being late doesn’t fly. Talk to your roomies about setting up direct deposit so you’re not waiting on anyone’s share of the rent to make you late.

Also take a look at your lease before you sign to make sure that late fees are in writing and aren’t totally unreasonable. Nolo has a great legal guide to dealing with difficult landlords and excessive late fees in case you do get yourself in hot water.

Plan Your Commute to Campus

Rolling out of bed and trekking across the quad was probably your longest commute to class last year, but now that you’re off campus, be prepared to face the insane traffic that comes with just about every college campus across the country. Plan extra time to get to morning classes, and you might want to reconsider that 8 a.m. class, as it will probably coincide with rush hour traffic. A bicycle is always an option, but make sure it’s the right mode of transportation for you with this list from Fearless and Loathing.

Stacy Eden is a Phoenix, Arizona native with a passion for art, power tools, and historical significance. She draws inspiration from classic cars, ancient mythological sculptures and jewelry designers such as Delfina Delettrez, Shaun Leane, and Dior Jewellery creative director Victoire de Castellane.

Heading off to college?  Start the school year off right with The Secrets of Top Students.

Advertisements

Infographic: Top 10 Trends for Back-To-School and College 2015

The summer is half over! Have you done your back-to-school shopping yet?

Top 10 trends for back-to-school and college 2015

Source: National Retail Federation


Don’t forget to order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students for the new school year!

Yes, It’s Possible. Decorate Your Dorm Room on a Budget

By Stephen Collins

When headed off to college for the first time, there’s nothing more exciting and scary than getting your very first dorm room. Moving away from home, meeting and making new friends, even possibly sharing your living space with a roommate; all of these things can make a huge impact on your college life. But, the unfortunate truth is that most college freshman don’t have a huge budget for anything beyond school supplies and basic necessities. So, the question becomes, how can you decorate your new living quarters on a budget?

dorm room

Rearrange

It may sound small, but doing something as simple as changing the arrangement of the current furniture can have a huge impact on the room. Dorm furniture is usually pretty sparse, so moving things into a non-standard layout can both mix things up and create a unique flair and unexpected space. For example, try pushing beds against the walls instead of sticking into the middle of the room to make extra floor space.

Multitask

Dorm rooms aren’t known for their space. One of the best ways to overcome this deficiency is to make sure that nothing in your living area is just one thing. The back sides of doors make great storage spaces as do the spaces below beds. Companies like DormCo specialize in making the most of all the space in your dorm closet with items like hangers and shelf liners. For additional storage in the corner or under the bed, Dorm Trunks has a variety of trunks that can provide storage, security and—with a little design and creativity—additional seating.

Accessorize

Nothing is more boring that white walls, bare windows and plain floors. Consider mixing things up with a unique rug from Dorm Rugs. Add posters, pictures or easy-to-remove wallpaper to cover plain walls. Or, pick up custom blinds from The Shade Store to add add a personal flair to your windows. These also can provide lighting control and privacy for you and any possible roommates.

Personalize

Finding little ways to personalize your living space can add some style while continuously re-energizing you as you face the everyday struggles of college life. Custom bulletin boards from The Container Store can be regularly updated with your dreams and goals or pictures from home to keep you focused when times get difficult. And, for that additional little touch, consider putting a message board on the outside of your door for fun communication with all of your neighbors.

Illuminate

Lighting can make a huge difference on the personality of your dorm and doesn’t have to take a bite out of your wallet. Using Christmas lanterns and lights can highlight various wall decorations or add a unique flair to your ceiling and furniture. Plus, companies like IKEA have a huge selection of inexpensive lamps to fit every style and room decoration.

Whatever you do, keep it uniquely you. You are going to be living in this space, so make sure it is somewhere you want to go at the end of the day.

About the Author: Stephen Collins was born in Phoenix, Arizona and has spent most of his life in the Southwestern United States, playing among the cowboys and aliens. This admitted lover of sci-fi and fantasy developed a passion for the written word early in life and began writing at a young age, mostly for the thrill and joy of the experience. He is currently working on his second book while continuing to weave his wordsmithing magic as a freelance writer.


Heading off to college?  Give yourself the gift of good grades with The Secrets of Top Students!

Get Into These 4 Healthy Habits as You Head off to College

By K.C. Dermody

For most college students, going off to school brings the first real sense of independence and freedom. You’ll experience an abundance of unfamiliarity as you’re exposed to a new learning environment and living arrangements filled with different types of people. With this new environment and people comes a host of germs and viruses that can easily be passed around, potentially keeping you from your studies and threatening to impact your grades. In fact, 68 percent of college students stated that they missed class due to illness, according to a survey conducted on behalf of global hygiene company SCA.

You’ll probably make every effort to look your best by taking frequent showers and wearing the latest fashions, but there are many aspects of hygiene that college students commonly overlook. Ensure you’re taking the proper steps for good health this semester with these four tips:

1. Wash your hands often

Mom probably reminded you every single day to wash your hands, but now that you’re out on your own, it’s easy to forget. Good hand hygiene habits are crucial for preventing the spread of cold and flu viruses. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers these startling facts about hand washing:

  • It is estimated that washing hands with soap and water could reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50 percent.
  • More than 50 percent of healthy people have Staphylococcus aureus living in or on their nasal passages, throats, hair, or skin.
  • Hand washing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16 percent.

Germs are commonly passed along when shaking someone’s hand, touching a stair railing or door knob, and handling money among many other common activities. Protect yourself by washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 to 30 seconds.

washing hands

2. Take care of your contact lenses

If you wear contact lenses, you should know that they carry a risk of eye infection, particularly if good hygiene practices aren’t followed. Be sure to carefully follow the lens care guidelines your optician or ophthalmologist prescribed, and replace contact lenses frequently in order to reduce the risk of infection. Save money by ordering them online from a company like VisionDirect.

3. Maintain good oral health

Taking good care of your mouth and teeth helps to ensure that you have a healthy, attractive smile in addition to eliminating bacteria that can cause bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. Brush at least twice a day, and replace your toothbrush every three to four months. If you notice the bristles becoming frayed, it’s time to get a new one. Proper daily flossing is also a must. Floss one tooth at a time by sliding the floss in the space between your tooth and gum, gently rubbing the side of the tooth in and up and down motion.

4. Launder bed linens frequently

Laundry may be inconvenient with your new packed schedule and your living accommodations, but make every effort to wash your pillow cases, comforters and sheets in hot water and detergent at least once a week. Dust mites are drawn to the dark, moist environment of a mattress, and mite infestations are known to cause allergies and rashes as well as exacerbating asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

 

About the author: K.C. Dermody is a freelance writer who has published work on numerous sites and in printed publications, including Yahoo Travel, Sports & News, RunLiveLearn and The Sherpa Report.


Going to college?  Give yourself the gift of good grades with The Secrets of Top Students!

 

Self-Storage Scholars: An Undergrad’s Guide to Self-Storage 101 (Guest Post)

It’s no surprise that college students are one of the largest customer bases for storage facilities everywhere. As an undergrad, the roof over your head is temporary at best (assuming you’re not living at home). It’s not uncommon to be in a different building every year, and since you’re only in classes for nine months out of the year there is an awkward hiatus where you don’t know what to do with your stuff in between moves (and sometimes even when you’re settled, space can be a precious commodity). Storage units are great way to keep your stuff safe and near campus during the summer months, but it pays to know what you’re getting into.

How will you store your stuff this year?  (Photo by hoosadork via Flickr)

How will you store your stuff this year? (Photo by hoosadork via Flickr)

What Size?
Storage unit facilities offer different sizes, but a typical one will have a range of units to choose from. The smallest are called “lockers” and are typically about 5’x5’. As a college student, you’ll most likely want to lease a 5’x5’, 5’x10’, or 10’x10’ at the max. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect to fit in these units, so you can better plan your storage needs.

  • 5’x5’: The “locker” size should be more than enough room for someone living in a shared dorm, or even a single dorm. Since dorms typically provide furniture like beds, desks, chairs, and dressers, you shouldn’t have many large items. Get creative and think of it like a game of Tetris, and you’ll be surprised by what you can fit this small unit.
  • 5’x10’: If you have any furniture, bikes, or other larger pieces then you’ll probably want to look at this larger size. Move in the larger items first, then stack your smaller stuff around it if you want to maximize the potential of the space.
  • 10’x10’: By the time you’re a junior you’ll be surprised how many things you’ve managed to accumulate. Upperclassmen tend to leave the dorms and live in student apartments or houses. A 10’x10’ unit should fit all of your furniture and items, providing you haven’t bought any major appliances.

Saving Money
Blah, blah, blah, (insert overused broke college student joke here). Everyone knows college students have little to no money, and while “discount storage units” are never a good idea, there are still some ways to save money. Other than looking out for promotional offers from facilities throughout the year, your best bet is to find some friends and split the cost of a unit. If you follow this route, make sure that you go in with people you can trust and that the facility allows multiple names on the lease, or figure out who will be responsible for the lease. Also be sure that everyone has a copy of the key.

Lock it Down!
Some facilities offer electronic or cylinder locks with the units.  These are the best available, but most of the time you are required to provide your own lock. It is tempting to spend $5 and throw on a cheap combination lock, but you get what you pay for when it comes to security and these are easily broken or picked. Your best bet is to purchase a disc lock. These are very hard to cut or break and they offer pick resistant tumblers. As mentioned above, if you are sharing a unit make sure that everyone who needs a key has one!

Storage units are a great way to keep your stuff organized and safe while you leave campus for the summer, and they can be affordable when you team up with friends.

Jenn Young is freelance writer working with Uncle Bob’s. She is passionate about beautifying her home and she currently writes on anything and everything related to storage and organization!


Want to improve your grades?   Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!