Money For College

So this is a topic that a lot of people encounter when looking into going to college for the first [or second] time.  This is especially true in the current state our economy is in.


For college, no matter what people told you growing up, having a dream and wanting to do it is not going to happen without the appropriate funds.  It sucks and at times it's not fair but in order to go to college, you're going to need lots of moo-la.

As a person that wanted to go to college no matter what, I know how strong the urge can be.  Being a person that was told from day one of my senior year in high school that I was on my own for college, I know the overwhelming feeling you get when dealing with these problems.

I've compiled a list of ideas that I wish to share with you in hopes to helping you out financially.

1:  Scholarships are never a bad idea.
The first thing you should do [and this should be REALLY early in your senior year or even the end of your junior year] is to start looking at scholarships.  Ask your counselor and they'll usually give you a list of available scholarships that are being offered in your area.  What's really great about this is that if you get early, some counselors will actually hold off specific ones for you or recommend you for ones.  Also, your school counselors are the BEST people when it comes to feeling out scholarships.

Another thing to do is to establish an account with http://www.fastweb.com/ .  At this website, you create a profile through a survey of sorts and then they'll actually make a list of scholarships that best suit you.  You can even make it to send you e-mails and weekly updates about scholarships.  The thing about this is that you'll need to check it at least once a week so you wont fall behind.

Also, look into websites that your state has for scholarships or college [like Georgia's being http://www.gacollege411.org/ ].  These sites are more specific to your area and can also help you when it comes to questions about your state's federal programs for students.

2:  The Feds can actually be helpful!


Sorry.  I had to get that point across right now.  Scholarships are nice but it's hard work for some.  The best thing to do is to fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible [http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/].  Sit down with your parents one day and get it all done.  And if you ever have to verify something, DO IT!

I push this because FAFSA is wonderful when you use it.  It complies all of the Federal grants, scholarships, and loans into one easily formed list.  By doing this, you can sometimes take care of all school related expenses, such as dorm, tuition, and fees, and you'll never have to take out a dreaded student loan!  If you're not completely covered with grants and scholarships, they usually off some pretty decent federal loans.

 3:  Get a job.

This one isn't fun but it helps.  Get a job early on in high school and stick with it.  Now do this:

  1. Set up a bank account.  Bank of America has a nice student package that you can get at the age of 16 in some states.  It's free for four years and comes with checking and savings accounts. 
  2. Make sure to have a savings account as well.
  3. Set up DIRECT DEPOSIT with your work.  You'll need a routing number [usually in the form of a check].  Make sure you have one for BOTH accounts.
  4. When setting up Direct Deposit, make at least 25% of your paycheck goes directly into your savings account.
  5. DO NOT TOUCH your savings account EXCEPT for college related expenses like application fees, down payments, and, hopefully tuition.
If you work a decent amount of hours, you should have a good proportion of money in your savings when it's time to withdrawal.  I know when it was ready for my college time to come, I had a little over two thousand dollars ready for me, which was nice for all those application fees I had, not to mention all the fees that popped up randomly over the summer.

4: Borrow from the bank.

I ONLY recommend this as a last resort.  This is NOT the way you really want to borrow money but sometimes it's the only choice.  As a word of advice, you will want to do this at least four months before school starts.  This is due to the fact that sometimes banks are slow or don't believe you really exist, that you're going to school, or that you need as much as you say and will want everything short of your first born to verify with.  

So do it FOUR months or so before school starts, as a safety precaution, and take out as much as you'll need for BOTH semesters with just fees plus 1000 to 2000 more to account for books and personal spending.  If, before school starts, you no longer need it, you can just pay it back or cancel it if you set up right.

WARNING:  If you go on this plan, get one that you don't have to start paying on until AFTER college and, if possible, one that doesn't start acquiring interest until after it is disbursed to the school.  Most personal loans have an interest of 10% or higher so this can be very costly in the end. 

5: Sometimes, less is more.

As much as it may hurt at first, sometimes it is best to go to a small, community college for the first two years.  It's cheaper and you'll just be getting your core classes out of the way.  The only downside is that you should make sure all the credits will transfer so you wont be wasting your time.

Also, look in to AP classes or the like and take as many as you can.  Actually prepare for the test.  You have no idea how much money that really saves you in the long run.

And remember, if living at home is a reasonable option, take it.  Sometimes not paying for room and board is all you need.


I hope this helped some.  I know how difficult it is when you're first starting out but don't fret; by taking the right measurements before hand, you shall be fine.

Like always, questions and comments are more then welcomed.



Getting a Life [Outside of Class]

Alright, so it’s the third week of school and you still have joined nothing. You’ve tried [if looking on the school website to read about interesting clubs count] but alas to no avail. It seems to be unfair how all your hallmates seem to have some meeting or organization to go to EVERYNIGHT while you sit in your dorm, watching reruns of Friends and Sex and the City.

So what’s a college kid to do?

Get out and meet people! Or go join a club. But how?

1: I’m a Freshman so it’s hard to get into things.

What a crock this is. Seriously, folks, being a Freshman is sometimes the greatest advantage when it comes to doing new things. No one really knows you so you get to do what you want, when you want, and no one really questions it because there is no need to think differently. You’re a new person in a new environment. Thrive on the freedoms it gives you and do not hide under the shadow of unfamiliarity.

Ever have a deep seated desire to give kick boxing or fencing a try but was never given the opportunity nor did it seem to fit your persona in high school? This is the time to do those things!
If you think it’s hard now to put yourself into new situations then thing about how hard it would be when you’re a Sophomore? A Junior? A Senior, even? These will be the times when you have probably established a name for yourself amongst at least a few people and it’ll be even harder to break apart and do your own thing. Just think about that the next time you utter the phrase “but I’m a Freshman.”

I’m not saying that you should reinvent your entire self image if you liked the way you were in high school but this is a time to expand, to grow, to experience the world around you before you have a job, mortgage, kids, responsibilities. Do it before it’s too late.
2: So you want to go out and explore the world!
Let’s start with just the campus first, bud. Better yet, your dorm.

You see, dorms are a schmorge-a-sporge of activities that you can due, especially if you live in a bigger dorm. There are dorm hall get-togethers, mixers [mostly in coed dorms but still], weeks of activities made just for your dorm, student hall council, and even book clubs [and if not, you can always just start one].
For hall get-togethers, this is usually done by your halls Resident Assistant (RA) during certain times of the year. From my understanding, in the first couple of weeks of school, each week represents a different time such as Move-In week, roommate week, etc. And with each week usually comes a specific activity that brings a lot of people together. The RA will design these activities as a way for people of the hall of the dorm to get to know each other better since you will be living together for the next academic year. Take advantage of these things. Go to them, enjoy them to the best of your ability, and be outgoing so that you can meet people. And yes they maybe a little lame but something is only as lame as you believe it to be. If you want it to work out, it will.

Student hall council is another way to both meet more people and to get involved on your campus. And this is definitely one of those times when the “I’m a Freshman so I won’t get it” phrase does not apply. Since most colleges stick the wee Freshman into one dorm, the people going up for council are going to be, you guessed it, Freshman! The only person stopping you from doing it is you. But remember, for things like councils that decide some slightly important things, make sure you’re really going to be dedicated before joining.

As for other advice on how to meet people and get involved, simply leave your bedroom door open [not when you’re sleeping or not there because that’s not very safe]. An open dorm door is like a wrap-around porch in the South; it’s the way your neighbors and you will communicate and get to know one another so leave it open and maybe call out a “hi, y’all” to those passing by.

3: The dorm people are weird . . .

I can understand this one. No one in your dorm seems to have anything in common with you besides your residence location. They’re Kappa Delta and you play snare in the marching band [note: not saying that sorority and band girls cannot mix. I’m using a generalization to emphasize my point]. You like to read books and study and they like to party until three in the morning. Whatever the reason, something is hindering the bond between you and those you share the building with. So now it’s time to venture out.
If you’re living on campus, chances are there a flyers everywhere! In the stairwell, the elevators, on corkboards outside your classrooms, on the stall in the bathroom, everywhere! So take the time out, if you’re not rushing to the lecture that starts in five minutes, and just stop and read. These flyers are chock full of information on meetings, clubs, art galleries, plays, etc. And it’s all waiting for you, usually at little to no cost. So one day when you’re wondering what to do, just stop by a random corkboard, scan the flyers to see what’s going on that day, and pick something to go to.
If random acts are not exactly your thing, then get on your school’s website. Most college websites now have a comprehensive list of the clubs available on campus. Look at this site and search for what you’re interest in. Like to read and discuss books? Then maybe a book club will be good for you and it’ll help you connect with those like you. Maybe Rugby’s more your thing so look up intramural sports and sign up! It’ll be both fun and healthy for you.
If your school doesn’t seem to hold such lists, then look in stead for an Activities Fair, which allows clubs to come and display what they got going on. They’re usually within the first month of school so keep your ears out.
Another way to meet people is simple to talk to the person next to you in class. It’s easy and cost you nothing, time or money. You have to be there anyway so might as well make a friend or two.

If you’re really adventurous, do to breakfast/lunch/dinner/whatever and just sit next to someone you don’t know and strike up a conversation. There are people everywhere. Just say “hello” and see where it takes you.

4: The Greek life.

A lot of people get to college and immediately rush. It’s just their thing. They either always wanted to in high school, know people who are in the respective sororities/fraternities, or it may be a family tradition. Regardless, they take this path and move-in week or the first week of school, they rush for the bigger, nationally known Hellenic Societies, which is all good and well for them.

There are also some people who completely and utterly dislike the Greek Life. It seems stupid, dumb, a waste of time. This is where I say stop on that one. Not all Greek societies are created equal. They’re not all just Barbie Dolls with a high IQ or some muscle headed Neanderthals. And for the ones that aren’t, it isn’t a society filled with “dogs” or the “geeks.” I say you don’t bash on something, no matter the view point, until you try it yourself.

And I know, a lot of people believe that they’re not cut out to be in a sister/brotherhood. Trust me, been there, done all that. This is the cool thing about college when you actually go: it’s not like the movies. These societies no longer just play to a certain playing type but a variety of them. They seem to be striving more for a sisterly or brotherly bond amongst virtually strangers. Also, some societies are based off majors or interest, such as business, so it’s a good way to meet people with common interest and network in your future profession, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. So before you shoot the Greeks or yourself down, give it a shot.
And for those who believe that you could not afford to join one, I come bearing good news. You can! Some Greek societies are not outrageously overpriced with fees being as reasonable as fifty dollars a month or lower. Now, for these lower priced ones, it usually just means that they don’t have a house, on or off campus, and so do not need to have high prices but still have all the fun activities like dinners, formals, semi-formals, etc. And even more so, some societies are willing to cut the fees down for people who get in but can’t afford it to that extent. So don’t let something like money stop you from doing something.
5: Final Word.

What I’m trying to say to you, my readers, is that while you’re in college, I would highly recommend sampling life. Go out and get interest, hobbies, viewpoints, whatever, that are different than your friends and families, that help you become your own person. Try out things you’d never do before and don’t worry about what others will think. In the long run, it wont matter.

I hope you all have good gun and adventure in college. Questions and comments are always welcomed.


Dorm Room Essentials: Organizing and Decorating

Above everything, it is important to remember that a dorm room is still a room that you’ll have to go to everyday after class. It should be warm and inviting, or at least comfortable for you. This means there should be minimal mess and a personal touch here and there.
1: Too keep things off the floor, find a place for everything.

Cleanliness may not be a “young adults” strong point but in college, it’s something that should be quickly learned. No longer do you get your own room to do whatever you want but you’re usually sharing a small space with at least one other person. This space should be as clean as possibly, clutter wise, so as to not annoy your roommate and to make living just that much easier.

This means that you should have a place for everything. If something doesn’t have a place, find it one or rethink keeping it with you. If it stays free floating around the room, it could cause a gigantic mess, which is not what you want. So move-in day, as you’re unpacking, designate a special spot for everything ( and make sure it’s not on your roommate’s side).

If you’re really anal (like me and my roommate were/are), before you move in, get the floor plans to your room and go ahead and map out where all the big stuff is going. This is a step I really recommend if you plan on bringing big things. It’s better to find out before hand if that futon fits into the room and not after you carry it up nine floors.

2: Not enough space, then create more.

As you’ve probably gathered, most dorm rooms are tiny. This means you’ll have less space but you know a great way to gain more room?

Lofting your beds, which essentially means making your bed a bunk bed with out the bottom bunk.

Some dorm rooms might already come with “loft-able” beds, meaning that the bed is made to be able to shift or placed into another rung on the bar. For those dorms that don’t come with these wonderful beds, you can pay someone to build a loft in room, which could run anywhere from $150.00 to $300.00.

NOTE: Make sure it’s okay with your college to have a loft in your room. Consult your student agreement contract or even your college’s student housing web page to make sure it’s okay. Don’t assume because it doesn’t say anything about lofts that it’s okay. Call the university to make sure if you can‘t find it elsewhere.

Lofts are very useful just because now you have places to put more things. Want a fridge, microwave, and TV but have no where to put it? Just stick it underneath one loft and if your roommate’s bed is directly opposite, stick some seating under there. Do as you prefer. It’s your room.

3: Still not enough room?

Then look into organization packs. Get some shelving or storage unit and place it under the bed with the rest of the stuff, having multiple cubbies to put things were you need them. It helps if you have a storage unit who’s cubbies are evenly divided amongst the roommates. You can either assign certain cubbies for a certain roommate or for certain shared items.

For closets, get a shoe rack for over the door if you have a lot of shoes, leaving the floor space for anything else. You can even get a closet extender, which is something that attaches to the upper bar in your closet to make an extra rack. Even “monkeying” the hangers can help. (For those who don’t know, monkeying the hangers mean to attach multiple hangers together in a vertical line, like you do when you play monkeys in a barrel.)

If you already live in a small living space, don’t buy things that you don’t already use at home. I’m actually going up in closet sizes and so don’t need as much as my roommate does, who is going from a walk-in closet to one that is slightly bigger than a standard house closet.

4: You still have stuff that has no place but you’ve bought all the organization tools at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Here’s where the hard part comes in. If you still have lots of stuff that still doesn’t have a place to go, it’s time to weed out the things that you don’t need as much and save them for home. Just make a list of everything you’re taking, and I do mean everything. Once that is completed, go

down the list, one-by-one, and ask these questions:

1: Why am I bringing this?
2: Will I really need this?
3: Is this pertaining to my education in an important way?

By these answers, you’ll know what needs to be brought and what can stay behind. As a rule, if the answers “yes” to the last question, go a head and put it in the “keeps” pile. Remember, college is all about your education. Everything else, just be truly honest with yourself.

If you still have too much stuff afterwards or (heaven forbid) you actually add on more, bring a third party person into your decision making place. Usually if someone who isn’t you is there, you may see that the toaster with the six slice holder is not something you “need” in college, especially since you really only use it for two pop tarts anyways. Which, come to think of it, you really like to eat cold anyway.

5: Everything is settled but you feel like you’re living in a prison cell.

If you can, always remember to have a central theme in at least your part of the room. As an example, my roommate and I decided early on that we were going to have bright, happy colors, with her side being more about blue and mine about green. A friend of mine found a pillow that was bright and funky, just like her personality, that she fell in love with so bought pieces that matched that one pillow, which makes her room feel more put together. Yet another friend is going to try a middle eastern theme in her room, meaning lots of pinks, oranges, and golds.

That’s what I mean about a central theme. It doesn’t have to be as exact as the last one but just something to make the room feel happier. Remember that brighter colors tend to make a room easier to enter and muted tones tends to help people relax. Stay towards colors that work for you and make you happy. When you’ve picked the colors, as you go shopping, look for items that reflect your theme, i.e. picking out a cover that has orange and pink colors in it for you middle east theme.

Also, look into bringing art into your room to help lighten up the blank walls. You can go and buy some cheap art at any local store or, if your artistic, create your own. If you were big into art in high school or at least took an art class or two, dig up some old pieces and see if they’ll fit into your new living spaces.

6: Home Sweet Home.

Liven up the place with things from home, your personal touches, so to speak. Bring a picture frame of the family (limit them, though. Too many and you’ll have a mess) to keep by your desk. As a family of six, I had to have a picture of my family with me and so my mom actually framed a couple of family photos in one frame for me to take along.

Also, bringing some pictures of your friends from high school is good, too. Just keep in mind that college is also about meeting new people so don’t get so caught up in the high school news that you forget to make new friends.

Even some organizational pieces can be personalized. For my jewelry, I’m actually bringing this ceramic elephant that my mother gave me when I was small. It has holes in it’s ears to hold earrings, it’s nose is big enough to hold all my rings, and it’s ears are also perfect for hanging watches and bracelets on.

Stuff like that is something that is really a personal pick. Know one can tell you what home items to take with you to make it more like home. Just think and it’ll come to you. Remember, though, a little can go a long way so don’t pack the entire house to take with you.

7: Final Word.

Organizing and decorating dorms is something that has suddenly become very mainstream in the dormitory world. Companies now realize that there are a plethora or opportunities in the college market if they have a product line that caters to one or, better yet, both of these aspects. Just remember that you are always more than welcomed to go outside the dorm and do as you please when you’re looking for the perfect for your room.

Just look inside yourself and decide what you want and what you need, not what a magazine or even this blog tells you. As always, this is just some hints and suggestions, not rules.

As always, feedback is more than welcomed. I’m also wish to hear some readers personal ideas about college so either leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Thanks for reading.


Dorm Essentials: Study Time!

Alright, so you’ve re-vamped your room into your space. You have the essential tools for cooking and eating in your room. You’re entertainment system beats out most adults. You’re bed feels like it belongs in a five star hotel and you even got everything you need for smelling good. You’re so ready for school.

Not quite, buck-o.

Remember, you’re going to college to get an EDUCATION which means having the proper tools to do so. So what to bring? Well, I’ve complied yet another list for you to look at, dearies. Hope it helps!

1: The Basics.

This, contrary to popular belief, is the easiest of all parts. Getting down the basics. As with most of my articles that include basics, this is different for everyone but is something that is easy to solve.

First, think back to your high performance peak in high school, preferably your Junior year or the first semester of your Senior year. Choosing your last semester is usually not very wise due to “senioritis.” Also choose a class that didn’t have a very strict material requirements for the class but was a demanding one, scholastic wise. Think AP or IB.

Now what was it about that class that made it so successful? What did you use to help guide yourself through this class?

Luckily for me, my class (which was actually second semester my Sophomore year) was like this. It was an AP American history class were we had only eight tests, weekly timed essays, and a final that made up our entire grade. There were no worksheets, no movies, no slide shows. We came into the classroom, sat where we wanted, and had an hour and forty-five minutes of straight-up lectures, at least one hundred pages to read that week, novels to be purchased and read outside the class, and a list ranging from a hundred to two hundred fifty words that had to be looked up and understand. But it wasn’t a definition. It was major battles, people, events, etc. We had tests every two weeks.

This class beat many butts. It was the most stressful class I’ve ever taken. But I got the highest grade I’ve ever gotten in an AP or Honors class.

Want to know what I did?

I took down notes in a spiral notebook in pen, so it wouldn’t get that weird pencil smudge, made sure to get the list of terms done the night or weekend I got it, made note cards that same weekend, and then continuously studied them. I also kept the note cards until after the final so as to be able to study them at anytime. Simple (and cheap).

So this is what you need to do for yourself Think of what you personally need and stock up. I have friends who need a binder with lots of organization pockets; pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, and whiteout; index cards of various sizes; and multitude of other items that I don’t even understand. Others just need a laptop with a large memory. And still others just have to sit and listen while occasionally taking notes.

If you need anything else, don’t stress. You’re professor will let you know the first day with his or her syllabus.

2: Extras that you may not remember.

Alright, so you have your basic, in class materials. Now you’ll need something to carry them from class to class so make sure you get a sturdy, durable book bag to store them in. I’m a personal fan of messenger bags but due as you prefer.

Also, for those times you do get in class papers, make sure you have something to put them in. A three ring prong folder for each class or even one-inch binders should due. These can be left in your room until you need them for class.

A pencil pouch. Don’t laugh. It helps, trust me, and makes it so you don’t have a dozen broken pencils at the bottom of your bag but nothing to write with.

Getting a planner is a handy thing to have. You’re not in high school anymore. College is not going to be handing out agendas at the beginning of each year and tell you when (and what) to write in them. Get used to writing in the planner and don’t forget: you can use them for more than just class. It’s great for keeping up with a work schedule and those small appointments from time to time.

3: Don’t forget that not everything will need to be toted to and from class.

If you like note cards, get something to put them in. Nothing is more messy (or unneeded) than carting around two hundred or so note cards in your book bag. You don’t need anything fancy, just a simple box to throw them in while not in use. Note card files have hit the market, too, so check in on them.

Rubber bands, paper clips, or staples to keep related items together. Once again. Due as you prefer.

Have a distinct place at your desk to store current class materials at when you don’t have that

class. Drawers work nicely but if your desk doesn’t come with it, then just designated a space to stack your stuff between uses. You can even use stackable trays.

Hole puncher so you can easily put things in your notebooks that don’t become pre-punched. Kept at the desk, though.

Calculator for your math classes. I suggest getting a TI-83 or TI-84, with calculator links. This way, you have the graphing functions and can easily transfer them to your computer using TI Connect. It’s free and a life saver at the same time.

4: That computer stuff.

I know not all college students feel the need to bring a computer to school but for those who do, these are things that I suggest. Also, even for those that don’t, some of these items are good for you, too.

As you may have noticed, floppy disks are completely outdated. Look for a nice jump drive. You could get blank Cds but I personally find a jump drive to be easier and less space consuming. If you feel a little nerdy putting it on your keychain, just stick in to your pencil pouch (looking handy now, huh?) Jump drives are great for saving data such as papers or reports without relying on the computer. That way if your computer crashes, you have another copy.

Getting a nice laptop or desk top is also a good idea. Laptops are better in the since that they’re portable, lightweight, don’t take up much space, and are now around the same price as a desktop. Desktops still tend to have more memory so choose your preference and go with it. I suggest getting a good warranty and keeping all the computer information with you, which means that you should take it to college with you.

If you get a laptop, don’t forget to get a laptop bag or just a laptop sleeve, which makes it so you can put them in other bags. Don’t forget the charger at home and make sure that it has a wireless card already installed or buy one of those as well. Ethernet cords are great as well, for both laptops and desktops, and the connection tends to be more reliable than a wireless connection. A mouse is also a good investment if using a sensor pad starts to bug your fingers a big.

A good printer with a USB connection is a wise decision as well. If you can get an all-in-one, that’s even better so you don’t have to make copies else where or find a fax machine at the last minute. Make sure you stay on top of the ink cartridge, making sure to buy an extra one when it starts to get below the half way mark, just to be safe. This is also an item to discuss with the Roomie and if you do share, split the cost of a new cartridge when it needs changing. Don’t forget the printer paper as well.

Make sure if you have anything that needs the computer, such as digital cameras or the aforementioned calculators, make sure to bring the correct cords along the way. Plus, good headphones are always great for private sound use.

5: Electrical stuff in general.

Get a desk lamp so you can work late into the night without having to use the overhead light. Just snag the one from home or you could just buy one at a local retail store for as low as ten bucks. Don’t worry so much about light bulbs. You can pick those up one the first one blows out.

And of course, get a surge protector and a multiple outlet plug. Chances are you’re room is equipped so that each roommate gets at least two outlets with two plugs a piece. That leaves four plugs in all, which, as you may guess, may not be enough for all your stuff. A surge protector is good for those times when the power surges, making sure not to ruin most electrical appliances.

6: Final Word.

You must never forget that college is for education first and everything second. Get what you need and worry about the rest later. As always, the items suggested are not set in stone, merely suggestions made from one college kid to another. Feel free to do as you wish, whether that means going strictly by it, only do certain sections, or doing your own thing.

Photos taken by me in the usual places with stuff I already have.

Feedback (comments, questions, suggestions) always welcomed.



Dorm Room Essentials: Eating and Chilling

So you’re pretty much set for college. Tuition’s paid, books have been researched and bought, meal plan has been selected and bought, and your parking fee just went through. Oh, and you bought your bed, bath, and desk supplies. You’re all set!

Not quite, darlings. Because unless you plan on staying in the room studying all the time, you’re missing the “fun” times. But also you need to think about another time.

The relaxing times.

So here are some items you may want to include into your U-Haul or moving vehicle of choice before you ship off to college so as to have that relaxing dorm.

1: If you live two buildings and nine floors up from the nearest mess hall . . .

You’re going to want to buy a mini fridge. This can stock drinks, fruit, left overs, cold foods in general, and make a nice shelf for that microwave you’re going to want to bring to heat said left overs in. Also, grab some dishes from mom’s cabinet to add to your collection. Don’t forget the essentials!

Essential Dishes:
- Bowls (for those seven cent Ramen Noodles and off-brand cereal)
- Spoon (to eat soup, cereal, and ice cream with)
- Fork (Leftovers need some lovin’.)
- Knife (because sometimes you need something to spread the peanut butter and take the plastic wrap off that CD)
- A Cup (To put fluids that you would want to drink in unless you drink strictly from cans)
- A Plate (to put food on to heat it up)
- A Can-opener (Spaghetti-Os aren’t going to open themselves)

Some Things To Consider:
- Napkins or Paper Towels (To wipe up messes)
- Coffee Cup (if you like to drink it and have a coffee maker in your room)
- A Water Pitcher (If you actually like water and don’t want to buy a water bottle every time)
- Dry Food Storage (This can actually be just that storage place you’re putting everything else in your room)
- A Reusable Water Bottle (Once again, so you don’t have to buy a new one every time. And you can put more than just water in it, if that’s what you prefer. Good for when you’re going to class.)

Remember, you can add or take away from this list as you please. I didn’t need half of this stuff and think I’m going to be okay. Just look at your daily life now and it’ll show you what you’re going to want the most. And for those dishes that you wish to use in the microwave, make sure they’re microwave-safe.

Also, remember to utilize your resources. For everything that I am bring with me to my dorm, the mini fridge was the only thing that was actually purchased ($79.99 at Walmart, baby!) and that was because I feared that the mini someone was giving me might crap out (it was as old as me!).

2: For Entertainment purposes only.

So you’re a huge gamer. Maybe you like to read to relax. Or you just might need to watch the newest episode of “Project Runway” in order to be happy. That’s okay. We all come in different shapes and sizes so here are some tips for some of you out there.

First off, bring a TV. It could come in handy for all those boring old days and could even entice fellow hall mates into your room. Just make sure that for those times you aren’t in class, you don’t spend it all the time alone, in front of the TV. College is probably the only time in your life where you’re in close proximity of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people your own age, going through what you’re going through. Take advantage of that opportunity and meet people. It could be as simple as going to the dining hall and sitting at someone’s table.

Now if you’re a gamer, go a head. Bring your PS2 (or 3), Xbox360, Wii, or even a Gamecube or an old school Nintendo64.

But only one. That’s right, one.

I’m suggesting limiting yourself to one gaming console (one per roommate, at least.). This is for two reasons:

One: You bring more than one and you’ve increased the chance of never coming out of your room.

Two: You really don’t have that much space.

So bring one game console, a couple of your favorite games, and that’s it. Don’t get too fancy or complicated.

Movies are a good way to keep entertained and to invite people but opt for a DVD player over a VHS (unless you get a VHS/DVD player combo). Or if you happen to bring a gaming console that’s compatible for DVDs, skip the DVD player all together. If you bring DVDs from home, don’t bring the whole set. That way, if they get lost or, heaven forbid, stolen, you’ll still have some. And make sure to keep them in a disc holder, not their original casing. Once again, you don’t have that much room. And do not bring VHS’s no matter what. You can wait until your first apartment for that.

If you read for pleasure, get a library card. Maybe even look into stories online or eBooks. Do not tote around your library collection. Maybe bring one book that you love to read over and over again but that’s pushing it. And I feel you pain. I have a book case in my room that is stuffed with books but I know I can’t bring them all. It makes me sad, too.

So maybe your entertainment is based more in outdoorsy things. That’s cool but from what I’ve heard, most sports’ equipment can actually be borrowed from the school so don’t bring too many sport related items with you. Maybe a tennis racket and a Frisbee. (This, of course, is up to you. Just look at the room and see what you have room for! Also, considering leaving some equipment in your car instead of putting it in your room.)

Music is fun and lovely and if you have room, talk with your roommate about bringing a boom box to your dorm. That’s right, a boom box. Don’t bring the entire system from home, including the detached speakers and the woofer that could blow the walls down. For Cds, once again, put them in a disc holder and don’t bring them all.

Don’t forget to bring your portable CD player or iPod (depending on which you prefer. I’m actually a CD player fan myself) to have for yourself, along with some decent and sturdy headphones. These are also good for watching movies on a laptop while your Roomie is sleeping.

Even if you’re thing is arts and crafts, bring a sketch pad and a small box (like one of those cheap pencil boxes that we all had when we were little) of pens, pencils, whatever you prefer. Even a cheap coloring book or two might help. Thanks to my high school education, I actually find this activity both relaxing and creative.

And remember, bring what you like to do already and what you already have! Move-in day is not the time to discover “new hobbies” that you’ll no longer like two weeks in.

3: Communication is key.

In this day, a phone is key. But not just a good cellular phone with a long distance plan. A dorm should also be equipped with a “landline.” It’s great for calling take out, other rooms, and various other numbers! And it wont waste your minutes on your cell phone.

Plus, if you look at your student bill, you’ll see that you’re already paying for it so why not take advantage of it? So go out and get a land line.

In most cases, you wont even have to go buy one. Ask your mom if you have a spare phone in the house or various relatives. Somebody’s bound to have one in a random box upstairs in the attic.

To keep in touch with the roommate during the day, get a white board or a pack of sticky notes! I got my white board for ninety-nine cents! Write a note and leave it somewhere they’ll see it.

4: And something comfy to enjoy it all on . . .

This may not be the most important thing to you but when I watch TV, play games, watch a movie, read, and even eat, I like to do it in a comfortable place that isn’t my bed. So this is what I suggest:

Get a futon. Doesn’t have to be new but it does need to be comfortable (and situated right across from the TV.). You can even get cozy with some throw pillows and a blanket over the top.

If you don’t have the money (or the space) then just get a comfortable chair or add chair pads to your desk chair. Whatever makes the room a little bit more comfortable for you.

5: Final Word.

Once again, these are not rules, just advice. Feel free to add or delete to your heart’s content. I am here merely to help along as much as I can.

All photos are by me done in my room, bathroom, and garage with stuff I have.

Questions or comments, as always, are more than welcomed.



Dorm Room Essentials: Bath and Laundry

These two subjects, while both equally important, go hand in hand with each other and so I have decided to make them one post. Why are they so easily connected? Well, they’re both important if you plan on getting dates. Let me explain:

No one likes stinky people.

That’s right. You don’t have these essentials, you’ll more than likely be stinky and no one likes that. So here are some items that you should seriously consider bringing with you.

1: The essentials for bathroom cleanliness.

Here’s the stuff that you’ve already got or already know you’ll need. How do you know about these items? Easy. Look into your bathroom. What’re the things you use everyday? What are the things you use at least once a week? What’re those things you use once a month, every month? Alright, that’s what you bring (if you rarely use it, meaning less then twelve times a year, leave it.)

I’m talking about shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, body lotion, etc. These are the things that you should already have so bring them! When you get to your dorm, or as you are packing, divide the items that you use in the shower or the ones that can only be strictly used in the bathroom from the ones that can use outside the bathroom or the ones that you don’t use daily. Store the latter items into a out-of-the-way place, such as the top cabinet of your closet or a drawer that isn’t in constant use. The other items will be dealt with in the next bullet.

2: Rub-a-dub-dub in the small, community shower.

Unless you lucked out and are going to an amazing college, chances are that as Freshman, you got selected to house in the more crappier of dorms. And crappy dorms equal community baths that are usually down the hall so here are some things you’re going to need to make the walk a little bit better.

An extra large towel, a towel wrap, or even a standard bathroom is something that all of us walking to the shower should consider investing in. Trust me, the last thing you want is to walk out of the bathroom to go to your room, and your towel slips right in front of a member of the opposite sex.
Shower shoes are a must. You may be the cleanest being in the world but that does not mean your shower mates are. Your shoes do not have to be the ones that are made for showers or even water shoes. An old pair of flips flops will suffice if you don’t want to get foot fungus.

Remember those items you use everyday that we discussed earlier in the post? This is where they go. In a carrier to take with you from the dorm to the shower. A mesh bag that you have lying around the house, that bucket in the garage that’s used to clean the cars every once in a while, or grocery totes are great (and cheap) alternatives for those who, like me, didn’t feel the need to buy a special bag. Of course, you could always get the consumer route and buy one from Bed, Bath, and Beyond , Walmart , or even Target, all ranging from about four dollars to ten. You may also want to find cases for your toothbrush, bar soap (if you prefer this method of cleaning), and Q-tips. As a hint, look at the travel section in most mass merchandise retailers like Target and Walmart.
Yes, these are some important dearies. It doesn't matter how clean you are if you put on your clothes dripping wet. I know I mentioned before that an extra long towel is good if you don't want to buy a bath robe or towel wrap but here are the recommended towels needed in the case of a robe.
Get at least two to three bath towels, hand towels, and wash clothes. This is a bare minimum. I'm only bringing two of each because I use one towel for a week. If you're a person who has to have a fresh towel everyday or an extra one for your hair, then compensate for that. Just remember, in a dorm, you have limited space.
Bath towels are a no-brainer but why a hand towel? Or even a wash cloth? Well, on those times when you're going to the bathroom to brush your teeth or wash your face, carrying around a full towel will get irksome. It's just easier to bring a wash cloth to scrub your face (if you're in to it) and a hand towel to dry off.
Also, if you’re going to bring towels from home, make sure they’re in tip-top condition: no holes, bleach stains, or runs in the elastic.
4: Your clothes are dirty . . .

Okay, kiddies. Your clothes are going to get dirty. It’s a fact of life. But fortunately, there are methods in wish you can reverse this most heinous of actions!

First off, see what kind of laundry detergent your mother uses. It could just be the thing that helps you in a foreign environment if you Jammies smell like home. Once that is done, buy a small bottle of it. Also, get a box of dryer sheets. They’re not just for the dryer. Stick them in your drawers to help your clothes smelling fresh and not like wood or in your closet. They can even be used to pace amongst your folded pair of sheets to keep them smelling fresh.
Invest in a small drawstring laundry bag. Hampers are nice but if you live in a small space, as dorm’s tend to be, a drawstring bag can easily be hung in your closet or on the edge of your bed. See if you can find one that has a side pocket big enough to hold your detergent and dryer sheets. Ladies, for those delicate items, such as panties and bras, buy a delicates bag with a drawstring on it and keep it next to the laundry bag for easy toss.

Also, check to see if your college has laundry rooms and whether they take coins or, like many schools are gravitating to, a pre-paid laundry card usually included with your student ID. Regardless of the one, stock up on laundry money and keep it away from your regular spending. The last thing you want to happen is to need to wash your clothes but you don’t have the correct money method to do so.
Of course, if you live close to home, you could omit the laundry detergent and dryer sheets, and every weekend or so, wash your clothes at home while you’re visiting the family.
As a word of advice, try to get in a regular laundry schedule. Every two weeks should be enough if you bring enough clothes but what ever is best for you, figure that out and stick with it. Don't forget to add sheets and towels into this schedule too! It should be around the same schedule you have at home. And for those who tend to loose buttons or rip their clothes easily, get a small sewing kit and learn how to patch things up!

5: Final Word.
These are my suggestions, not set-in-stone directions. Always remember to modify hem to fit your own individual needs.

All pictures were taken by me in my bathroom and on top of my television. I am not promoting any of the items seen in the photos. They just happen to be what I use.

I hope this article has helped and as always, feedback is more than welcomed.



Dorm Room Essentials: Bedding

As a college kid, you’re going to be spending a fair amount of time in your dorm room and, more than likely, on your dorm standard, extra long twin bed. So shouldn’t that be the most comfortable place in the room? I’d like to think so. Today I want to tackle the thought that’s on most college kids’ minds when moving in: What to bring for the bed?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve already been through countless lists but all your thinking is “Do I really need ALL of that?!” My answer is simply no, you don’t. See, most “list” are there to included anything and everything under the sun that you may want, not necessarily need. Some of the craftier kids out there know that all you have to do is pick out the things you think you’ll need. But for those who still don’t know, I’ve complied my own list which is based off my own personal experience and from those around me.

1: Two sets of sheets.

This is a definite. I know what you’re thinking. There’s only one bed, why have two sets? I’ve always grown up with the thought that for every bed in the house, you should have two sets of sheets.

One bed: Two sheets. Five beds: Ten sheets.

That way, if something happens to the first set (say, you get sick, spill juice on them, or they’re just plain nasty), there will always be that second set so you don’t have to sleep on just the mattress.

Two sets for a dorm student is especially needed. With the hectic life of classes, homework, work, and having a social life while living away from home, the last thing you want to do is spend a whole day washing one set of sheets, especially if you don’t have time to. So buy two sets, either in the same color or not, that way you’ll always have something fresh and waiting for you.
Also keep in mind that most college’s have extended beds so make sure you have the extra long sheets to outfit your bed in. The other wont work because they’re too short. And please try to change your sheets every two to four weeks. It’s just hygienic.

2: Pillows

This one’s a little tricky but a good rule of thumb is to take the SAME AMOUNT of pillows that you use at home, meaning that you actually sleep with, to your dorm. Most sites say two but that may not be what you’re used to or even need.

I personally am bringing two standard pillows and a body pillow, just because that’s what I have on my twin at home. I find it easier to “lounge” in my bed and use my laptop if I have that many. But do as you prefer.

I also recommend buying new standard pillows if that’s all you’re taking. What a lot of people don’t think about is that if you take everything off your bed from home, then when you come back on the weekends, you’ll have to cart around your bedding. You can get some nice standard pillows from Bed, Bath, and Beyond for as low as seven dollars and Walmart has something just as good for about three.

3: Covers, quilts, comforters, blankets, and/or duvets.

Just as the pillows, this is one of those things that is really a personal preference. Look at your bed at home. Do you like real blankets or the ones that I like to call “fashion covers,” meaning that they feel scratchy but look good? How about a down or down alternative blanket? It’s really up to you but you’ll need something instead of just sheets.

Remember, though, some dorms get insanely cold while others feel like a sauna. Prepare for both. I suggest just bringing one large comforter or blanket for your bed, plus a thermal-like blanket to put underneath that for added warmth (they tend to be pretty cheap), and maybe one or two extra smaller blankets for those colder months.

It’s always good to get a more plain fabric for the blanket that covers your bed. That way as the months go by, you may not get tired of it as quickly as you will with a more “fashionable” blanket.

4: Mattress pad of some sort.

This one was a big one for me. Having slept on twins all my life, I know they’re not exactly built for long lasting quality. Now add the fact that that it’s a cheap mattress, and you have instant back problems. Luckily, I have a solution.

Buy a mattress pad. I have one for my bed at home and they’re great. I do suggest buying the actually pad over the egg crates just because they’re the same price at most stores and the pad doesn’t bunch up or loose it’s padding as quickly. If you can get access to them both, the better. More padding.

Also, for about ten dollars, you can get a fitted sheet with a small pad on it that’ll help keep the other pad in place better.

As with the sheets, make sure you get the right size or you’ll have about five inches of unpadded space. Not fun.

5: Mostly random but important.

You’ll need an alarm clock. Don’t go with out one and don’t always rely on your cell phone. Buy one that is battery operated so you don’t have the dreaded “the power went off and it knocked my clock off so now I’m two hours late for my first class” morning.

If you’re going to loft you bed, and I recommend that you do so as to maximize space, you might want to invest in a bedside caddy or table. They’re easily attachable to the top bunk and don’t leave marks (or at least aren’t supposed to). This comes in handy to hold your alarm clock, books (assuming you read in bed), glasses, retainers (I know I’m not the only one), and an assortment of other things.

6: Final Word.

So that’s my list of bedding. I want to leave this list by saying that a lot of people hype up the dorm room needs and then panic because they don’t know what to bring. Just think about your bed at home and what you like to have there, what you may need to have, and then modify it to a smaller space.

You want your stuffed animal from Kindergarten to go with you? Then add it.

Like hard mattresses? Then omit the padding.

Need lots of covers in order to sleep? Then bring them (but please, for your roommate’s sake, keep them on your bed and not in the floor).

It’s all about you and your needs now. This is going to be about the one space in the entire room that is totally and completely yours so make it your own.

Any ideas or suggestions, leave some feedback. It’s always more than welcomed.

Thank you for your time and happy sleeping in your new room!