Category Archives: Campus living tips

Oh Dear, I’m a Newbie

By Talia Goren

This article written for CollegeTipsForParents.org by Talia Goren was previously featured on our site a few years back. Talia discusses the many new encounters that all new college students go through, such as new surroundings, new people, professors, etc. She gives great suggestions on specific steps students can take to make the transition less stressful. Her tips are also useful suggestions for parents helping their children adapt to college life and the student’s college transition.


Many students have minor coronaries at the thought of the process you go through when entering or starting something as new and scary as college. The idea of making friends and the amount of course load and the horror of a scary professor seem, especially to those not blessed at birth with the social butterfly gene, like an impossible feat to overcome.

So what, then, is the best way to be the most comfortable and happy in this new environment? How do you get used to new surroundings, new people, new classes, new teachers, and all the other “news” associated with going off to school?

There are a few steps to take to achieve this goal.

First of all, make a priority list. Why did you enter this school in the first place? What led you to choose it? Was it the size? Maybe it was the majors? Perhaps even the location! Either way, write down your reasons for wanting to be there and what things you really loved about it. This will help you remember positive things when you are feeling down in the dumps.

Then, explore! This means finding out about different aspects of the school. They always give you a few days before classes start so use them! Look around, get a campus map and familiarize yourself with your environment. You can do it alone, or even with a buddy, maybe your roommate or someone you met at orientation. Get to know the different areas of campus and the best ways to get from one place to another. Take advantage of maps and offices with staff members in them. Ask lots of questions, someone is bound to know the answer.

The next thing to do is find out about clubs. Usually there is some kind of club expo where all of the groups, clubs, teams, sororities and fraternities are displayed. Ask questions, get involved, and find something that interests you. There is bound to be something!

In terms of all of the new people, keep in mind just that; they are all new! Hundreds if not thousands of freshman are entering schools every August and September and they are all just as frightened as you are! The most important thing to do if you are not as comfortable<> being social is to always smile. People feel more comfortable around people who smile, and you are more likely to be approached by someone who is more comfortable talking to strangers if you look as though you are willing to be approached. Also, not all upper classmen are evil, so please don’t be scared of them. Oftentimes, they will be your best asset because they’ve been at the school for awhile.

The idea of the “scary professor” whose aim is to give you as much work as humanly possible and perhaps take you to his dungeon where he has a torture chamber is-mostly- inaccurate. Just like in high school, there will be teachers you like and teachers you dislike. While many schools place you in classes without you really choosing them yourself (at least your first semester), most schools allow you to choose your own classes and your own professors. Take advantage of websites that rate professors because they are generally pretty accurate. Also, feel free to use other students for information. Again, upperclassmen have been there, and done that! While they may not have the same taste as you, they can usually tell you what kind of teaching style the professor has and you can decide whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

The most important thing to learn about college is that no matter how big or small, you have the power to change anything. If you are uncomfortable with a roommate, you can request to switch. If you decide your major is not the right fit for you, you can also change that. If a class is proving not to be what you thought it was or you do not get along with a teacher, there is always an add/drop period where you can switch into another class. Don’t be afraid to make a decision and have an opinion, because in the end you and your parents are paying for an education and for you to be happy and comfortable and learn a lot!

College Students are often Clueless about Money Matters

Many College Students desperately need to learn money skills.

The list below represents typical quotes from college students on the topic of money matters. A basic understanding of money management is a critical part of the daily responsibilities of college and adult life. Although many of the statements seem comical to experienced adults, they illustrate why so many young people get into financial trouble. We suggest parents spend time teaching their students money skills, or provide them with a quick money management course as the one recommended below:

Money issues are probably the top reason students drop out of college. With that in mind, our Pick of the Month is the excellent course Money Management for Young Adults – this self study video & ebook course clearly explains essential money skills that college students need to understand.

Quote examples of College Students:
-Spending $1,000 using my new credit card is way cheaper than writing a $1,000 check, because I only have to pay back $20 per month.
-The bank must be wrong, my account can’t be overdrawn, I still have 10 checks left in my checkbook
-I think someone’s ripping me off on my first paycheck, who are these people FICA and FUTA, and why are they getting part of my paycheck
-I just got my first credit card, I love it, when this one’s full, I am going to apply for a couple more.
-I am already getting credit card applications in the mail, but my mom is too uptight to let me have one. Once I move out, I’m going to get a bunch of cards, and finally get some cool stuff.
-I am going to work 25 hours a week this summer and will make $8 an hour. I’ll be able to afford that new SUV, and still save tons of cash for college tuition.
-I make $80 a week at my part time job and buy lots of awesome stuff. My parents both work full time, but they’re so cheap, they never buy anything.
-Having a ton of student loans doesn’t really matter; by the time I have to pay them back, I’ll be making the big bucks.
-I don’t worry about filling out my income taxes, my dad always ends up doing it for me, I guess he likes doing it. He’s kind of weird that way.
– I heard that collection agencies can’t bother you until you’re out of college.
– If you never leave college, you never have to pay back your student loans.

College Freshmen – Lost Motivation – How to Overcome

By Talia Goren
For CollegeTipsForParents.org
College Student Talia provides the following tips which should be useful for college freshmen as well as college parents:

I’ve lost my motivation….What do I do?

The first semester in college is probably one of the hardest/most rewarding experiences of a person’s life. Not only is it a culture shock- as college life is totally different from anything else- but it’s also more work, more responsibility, and often completely different challenges than you were ever used to before.

So how do you stay motivated?

If you read my other article, I’ve always been a fan of writing lists. It doesn’t have to be in list form necessarily, but purely the act of writing something down helps people solidify their thoughts. What would you write exactly? Well for starters, pro’s and con’s. Think about what you truly enjoy about going to your school. Is it the teachers? Your classes? Maybe even your sorority or fraternity. Whatever makes you happy- write it down. When you’re feeling really unmotivated and questioning why on earth you decided to spend upwards $40,000 dollars for brain breaking work- look at this list!

Also, write down some of your goals for the next four years. Why did you decide to go to this school in the first place? If you’ve already done this, revise it, or rewrite it according to how you’re feeling now. Often just remembering a positive feeling that you had when you started something difficult is enough to offer motivation.

Don’t hesitate to share this with other people either. Whether it’s a professor, a fellow student, or even your parents (because you know they want to know, even if you don’t want to tell them- you’d be surprised at their good insight!) talk it out- both your negative and positive feelings.

Do these things as often as you feel you need to- repetition also helps solidify things in your brain. And who knows, maybe your lack of motivation means you need to change something. Rehashing all the details while looking back in time to the beginning of your college career can often help you decide.

End of part 1 of 2 More tips for college freshmen and other college students on staying motivated. Part 2, which will be posted shortly.

Care Packages for College Students (part 2)

This is Part 2 of our earlier post about Ideas for gift baskets or care packages for college students.
In case you missed it, here is part 1: Ideas for Care Packages for College Students.

Gift Ideas and Care Packages for College Students (continued)
By Jen Danowitz
for CollegeTipsForParents.org

A Touch From Home
Sending along something personal, such as a picture of the family dog or a funny card, can uplift any student. This will cheer your child and motivate him or her to get through even the toughest course load.

• Recipes
o Add a few recipes of home cooking. If a kitchen is not easily accessible (some residence halls have community kitchens), think of creative recipes that can make-do with dry food and a microwave. Put together the ingredients in a Ziploc bag, and send it all along.
• Coupons or gift cards
o Go online to check out the local restaurants or grocery stores near your college student’s campus. Sending a few $5 gift cards to the local coffee shops or pizza places, along with a to/from note on the back of each card, will give your child a smile and a gift s/he is sure to use.
• Cater to your son or daughter’s interests
o Include items you know your child enjoys, but would not typically purchase because of a budget. Keep an eye out for sales, and stock up on items you know your child will love. Make-up, lotion, magazines, CDs, comic books, etc.—think of what will make your child smile and add it to the package.
• Stories from the local paper
o Cut out and send along stories featuring people or places your child will appreciate. This allows him or her to stay connected with what’s going on at home, and from a source s/he can hang up on a bulletin board.

The Holidays
Including something that relates to an upcoming holiday can brighten any student’s spirits and make the dorm room a cheery, homier environment. Send along room decorations such as streamers, holiday light strands or holiday themed tablecloths; and add small treat bags with seasonal sweets for your son or daughter to enjoy. Include a few extra treat bags for your child’s roommates—reaching out with a gift from home can help ease homesickness by encouraging your child to connect with his or her new “home.” Keep in mind everyone loves to see what’s inside a friend’s care package, so send a little extra for your child to share.

Keep checking back for more ideas and suggestion for care package ideas for college, and gift suggestions for college students.

Smart Ideas for Care Packages for College Students

Send Your Child a Healthy Care Package:
A Nutritious, Delicious and Personal Alternative to the Traditional Care Package
By Jen Danowitz
for CollegeTipsForParents.org

Care packages are often loaded with junk. At first, the typical college student will smile at the “snack-size” packages of candy, cookies and punch mix; but after a few days of sugar-highs, a few pounds heavier and an empty, hungry feeling lurking inside, your child will be craving something more to help successfully pull an all-nighter to write that paper. Take advantage of sending a classic care package to your college-aged son or daughter to send along items that actually support your child—and really show you care. The following include suggestions for a healthy, useful and more personal care package.

1. Food, Food, Food!
Every college student loves the excuse of heavy coursework to chow down on junk food. However, there are many alternatives to these empty calories that will better support your child, keeping him or her healthy and focused. Items such as rice cakes or oatmeal have low sugar and caloric content, yet include nutrients your child needs to stay on top of a demanding schedule. Stay away from the Easy Mac and microwaveable popcorn—your child will appreciate the opportunity to chow down on these more satisfying snacks, which are not easily found in the dorm environment. Remember that most packages are not delivered directly to your child’s dorm room, so avoid including anything perishable.

• Whole grain breakfast and/or protein bars
• Dried fruit mix
• Mix together dried cranberries, blueberries, raisins and granola for a nutritious sweet treat.
• Graham crackers
• Rice cakes
• Serving-size cereal boxes
• Nuts mix
• Homemade granola bars
• Fat-free crackers
• Low-fat cookies
• Sugar-free water-mix flavor packets

2. Personal Items
Your child will surely appreciate these personal items and toiletries that are often hard to find on campus.

• Spare contact lens cases, lenses and on-the-go solution bottles
• Toothbrushes and floss
• Vitamins
• Tissues
• Most students don’t think to pick up some extra tissues—until they have a runny nose. Stay ahead of the game and ensure your child is prepared for these times.
• Cough drops and basic cold medicine
• Air freshener or room deodorizer
• Paper towels, cleaning wipes
• Stamps

The above items are obviously on the ‘practical side’, in part 2 of this article we will include a bunch of exciting ideas & fun items to include in the college student care package. see you then…

6 Tips For Avoiding Weight Gain and Eating Healthy at College

Eating Smart in Your Dining Hall – Tips for College Students & Parents

by Jen Danowitz
for CollegeTipsForParents.org

The availability of constant all-you-can-eat style meals, coupled with the lack of parental direction for what should go on the table and the plate, leads many freshmen students to throw nutrition down the trash chute. With an eye on keeping healthy in the buffet-abyss of your dining hall, the following tips will help pile up your plate and not the pounds.

1. Quickly browse all selections before filling up your plate.
When you enter the dining hall, skim over all the selections available before filling your plate. By taking appropriate portions of what you really want, you will be less tempted to pile on too much food. This will also give you a better idea of the healthier alternatives available for your meal.

2. Check out the salad bar.
Most schools offer a variety of healthy salad bar options. Pile your plate with an assortment of leafy greens and other veggies before heading to the other food selections. It will be easier for you to take smaller portions of the less nutritious options, if your plate is already full. However, take it easy with the cheeses, croutons, bacon bits and dressings—too much of these can make your innocent salad as calorie-packed as the dining hall’s greasiest meal.
Many salad bars have a great fruit section as well. Keep this in mind when looking to jazz up your breakfast cereal, grab a quick apple or banana to snack on between classes, or couple fresh strawberries with yogurt to create a nutritious and delicious desert.

3. What are you drinking with that meal?
Filling your cup with soda is a great way to actually dehydrate yourself and pack on pounds. Opt for ice water, or a nutrient-rich beverage such as nonfat milk or 100% fruit juice. If you really want that soda, check out the diet options, or fill your cup only halfway and then add fruit juice to make a healthier (and tasty!) mix.

4. If you’re looking for carbs, look for whole grain.
If it’s not whole grain, it’s essentially empty calories. Why not go for the whole-grain versions of bread, cereal, pita, pasta and tortillas to add both flavor and nutrition to your carb-fix?

5. Get in and get out.
The longer you hang around in the cafeteria, the more you will be tempted to fill your plate with everything your eyes feast on. By piling it up, you will eat much more than your body actually needs. Head for the right choices, and then head directly out. Remember the selections your dining hall offers are probably not one-time deals, so you don’t need to grab everything you see.

6. Never eat when you are pressed for time.
If you head to the dining hall when you are in a rush, you will very likely grab the fastest dish-to-plate meal option. This is not often a nutritious option, which means you will load up on junk and still be hungry after. If you need a quick fix, force yourself to ignore temptation to grab the ready-made burger or greasy pizza slice, and choose a more wholesome option such as fresh fruit or a bowl of whole grain cereal with nonfat milk.
In addition, it’s important to slow down and think about each bite of food you take. Rather than wolfing down your meal so fast you forget what was on your plate to begin with, this will give your brain time to recognize your stomach is full, which means you will be less tempted to overeat. It will also give you time to relax and enjoy your meal.

CollegeTipsForParents.org note: The above tips are a general suggestions, your personal circumstances and needs may be different, Parents and students should always consult their personal physician regarding all health related matters.

9 Tips for College Students To Reduce Info Fraud Risks

Steps You and Your College Student Can Take to Reduce the Risks of Info Fraud and Identity Theft
Presented by CollegeTipsForParents.org

College Students are frequently the victims of information fraud. The victims’ parents are often asked to help fix the financial mess and spend considerable time untangling the administrative issues.

Identity thieves often know their victims; either directly or indirectly. Thieves might be their dorm-mates, friends, siblings of friends, classmates, co-workers, current or ex-boy/girlfriends, friends from extra-curricular activities, etc.

Names, addresses, birthdates, social security numbers, account numbers, and other personal data are valuable commodities on the underground market. An ex-boyfriend could easily possess all of this info. In fact, he might even know inside information such as passwords, PIN number, mother’s maiden name, etc.

What are some of the reasons young people are frequently victimized?:

-Casual attitude about taking precautions.
-Naive about security and safety.
-Trusting (often because they have never been swindled before).
-Less likely to review their credit report for unusual activity.

According to MoneyManagement101.com , parents should talk to their kids about identity theft and information security. Although the following tips may seem obvious to experienced adults, a surprising number of young people don’t follow some of the following basic guidelines.

-Never lend your credit card or debit card to anyone, and never share your password.
-Do not print your driver’s license number, birth date, or social security number on your checks.
-When you write a check at a store, don’t allow the store to confirm your check by writing in your credit card number.
-Do not put outbound mail in your mailbox for your postal carrier to pickup. Take your mail directly to a US postal mailbox.
-If your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen, alert your bank/credit card issuer immediately.
-Avoid using passwords or PIN numbers that might be easy for a thief to figure out (i.e. avoid birth dates, common names, etc.
-Shred any financial documents or anything containing sensitive information before putting them in the trash.
-Always check your credit card statement for charges you did not make.
-Order a copy of your credit report at least once per year. Look out for creditors on your statement that you never applied for.

We will feature additional tips and suggestions on CollegeTipsForParents.org in the near future.

Campus Safety and Security Resources for Parents and Students

Colleges and Universities talk the safety and security of students VERY seriously. In fact, in light of recent tragedies, many schools are adding additional safeguards, including security related staff, procedures, and technology.

The United State’s Department of Education maintains a useful website with information about campus safety and security; this site maintains information resources which may be of interest to parents of college students:
Campus Safety and Security Resources

Why college students' bikes & scooters are disappearing around campuses

This video shows how easily thiefs can steal bikes on campus. The video was shot in various busy spots in New York City, although it is easy to image the same situation are any urban or rural college campus. It is amazing how passers by will not get involved. The video was put together by two brothers; the man in the video is actually ‘stealing’ his own bike to illustrate his point.

Bikes, mopeds, and scooters are expensive items, and as was illustrated in this video, are vulnerable to theifs. In future entries, we will discuss bike theft prevention tips, recommended bike locks, etc.