5 Apps to Make You More Productive

College life can be overwhelming as you try to manage your classes, extracurricular obligations and social life. During this busy time, technology can make your life more manageable. These apps that will help you organize your time and increase your productivity.

5 Apps to Improve Productivity

  1. Evernote

Not only is Evernote free, it is on the list of The New York Times “Top 10 Must-Have Apps.” With this app, you can write notes, capture photos, keep to-do lists and record voice reminders. You can sync Evernote with all your devices and search for specific notes. You can organize notes into specific “notebooks” or with tags and email them to others via Twitter or Facebook. College students can use this app to snap photos of PowerPoint slides and textbooks, take and organize class notes for studying later and even to upload their favorite recipes and grocery lists.

  1. Dropbox / Google Drive

As a student, you may do work on multiple computers, even working on your smartphone when you’re out. Dropbox eliminates the need to email documents from one computer to another. It also eliminates the need for a flash drive. By installing the free app on your computer, phone or tablet, you can save any file to a Dropbox folder that you can access from anywhere. You can even create folders that you can share with other people.

An alternative to Dropbox is Google Drive. You get up to 15 GB of free space with your Google account. Not only does Drive come with the free space, you can also use it to access Google’s free software like Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

  1. Trello

Trello is one of the best organizational and collaborative tools available. It’s the perfect place to organize projects and tasks. Trello is like a digital whiteboard filled with lists of sticky notes. You can do more than move the notes around. You can upload files, make checklists, add links, labels, and due dates to all of those notes! Unlike a whiteboard, Trello is available online and on smartphones.

  1. gFlash + Flashcards & Test

Another great freebie, gFlash + Flashcards & Test lets you create and edit an unlimited number of flashcards for studying, with the option of adding images and sounds. You can also download existing cards from the gWhiz collection. Cards can have up to nine sides, and as you quiz yourself, you have the ability to track your progress. Because it’s free, there are some ads, but they don’t get in the way of your studies.

  1. Zapier

For those seeking the ultimate productivity app, Zapier is the easiest way to automate your apps and programs. The possibilities with this app are endless. Set it up to automatically convert calendar events to Trello tasks, save email attachments to your Google Drive, or backup your Evernote notes to Dropbox.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year

College is the perfect intersection of freedom and young adulthood: Never again will you be allowed to have that much fun while being responsible for so little. But as generations of students have learned the hard way, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by that freedom and go overboard. It’s a fun but intimidating time, and the best way survive your freshman year is to be prepared.

How to Survive Your Freshman Year

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Spoiler alert: You can’t do it all. Not even close.

College is about learning to prioritize and tell the difference between what you can do, what you want to do, and what you need to do. The biggest mistake freshmen make is taking on too much.

If you want to get ahead, you’ll have to scale back.

Set up a schedule to follow each week and stick with it. It doesn’t have to overly detailed or break down your life into 10-minute chunks. But, you should be able to look ahead each week and know what you’re doing every day and every night, from attending class to studying or just taking some time off to be with friends

You should also plan for free time, too. That might sound counter-intuitive or just plain impossible, but it’s not, and it’s absolutely worth it. As you build time for study and class, leave open chunks for hanging out, eating, wandering the dorms, or just seeing what comes up. Maintain your schedule and your sanity.

Avoid Credit Cards

Building credit is important in the long run. It shows banks that you’re trustworthy, it gives you access to better interest rates on loans, and it generally makes you feel like an adult.

But it takes years of controlled work to do that, and freshman year isn’t the time to start. Managing credit means using cards wisely, and only to make purchases you could buy with cash at that moment. Credit cards aren’t for making big buys that aren’t in your budget; they’re for showing banks you’ve got enough cash and maturity to pay your debts in full.

Getting into credit card debt while you’re still in college means you’ll be under the thumb of major lenders before you’ve even gotten your degree.

There’s plenty of time to be an adult and work with the complicated payment structures that come with credit cards. College is not that time.

Establish Your Independence

Don’t go home too often.

College is a crucial part of the development process as you make the rocky transition from childhood to young adulthood. It’s tempting to make frequent trips home, whether for a homecooked meal or clean laundry.

Unfortunately, that’s detrimental to your long-term success as a student and a rounded human being.

Independence is usually hard-earned, and that means getting used to being bored or rejected or even alone on campus. It means meeting people and making friends. It means shaking up your established routines and coming up with new ones. It means staying away from home.

College teaches resourcefulness and problem-solving, but you won’t be able to learn those skills without first relying on yourself.

Don’t Rush the Big Choices

Freshman year can feel like a barrage of life-or-death questions: What’s your major? What do you want to do? Where do you want to live? Do you want to go out sometime?

Guess what?

You don’t have to commit to a major when you begin your freshman year.

Many schools don’t push you to declare until you start your sophomore run. Use your freshman year to take your school’s required course and explore topics that interest you.

Your major will be a guiding force in your education and career, and it’s not a choice to be made lightly.

One of the worst things you can do is select a major because you don’t want to weigh any other options, or if it’s something you don’t like but are betting you will come to love in time.

Take your time on this one. Take a month, a semester, a year. Don’t just leap; look carefully. This is a great opportunity to get to know your guidance and career counselors, as well as professors in fields that grab your interest, to find out what’s required by students in your prospective major. Check out employment prospects with seniors or counselors.

The real lesson in picking a major is to learn how to examine yourself and figure out what you want, then take the steps to get it.

That’s not something you can knock out overnight.

Get Some Sleep

Really, do it. Get some good sleep as much as you can. Your mental and physical health depend on it.

A 2009 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that only 30% of college students surveyed got more than 8 hours of sleep a night, while more than 68% percent (!) had trouble sleeping because of stress related to their academic or personal lives. As a result, students with poor sleep habits turn in greater numbers to over-the-counter drugs to regulate their sleep cycles and moods.

Sleep-deprived students tend to perform worse in class and on tests than their more rested counterparts. Your body becomes sluggish, your brain operates through a thick fog, and your moods become erratic.

So what do you do?

Freshmen are terrible with time management. They stay up too late the night before an early class. They skip sleep altogether in favor of doing all the things. The FOMO is real, and it leads to some hectic and damaging hours. Don’t cheat yourself out of healthy sleep. It’s one of the best things you can do to stay healthy.

Moderation

If there’s one adage every freshman should heed, it’s this:
Strive for moderation in all things.

Party, but party responsibly. Work hard, but leave time to relax. Make new friends, but give yourself time to recuperate. Don’t shy away from big choices, but don’t rush into them, either. Lean on your folks, but not too much.

Freshman year is like nothing else. If you do it right, you’ll never forget it.

How to create a successful outline

Few people know how to create a successful outline, and that amazes me.

The first step is to understand the material you’re reading. If you’re simply taking chunks of the chapter, you’re not going to get anywhere. There are two different outlines: research outlines and chapter outlines. I’ll cover both here.

Research outline

Every good research paper should start with a great outline. A great outline serves as the skeleton for your entire paper.

Once you’ve figured out your topic and the general direction of your paper, creating an outline is straightforward. You must thoroughly understand your thesis before completing the outline. If you’re confused or stuck on a thesis, don’t worry about it until the end. Start with the information.

Once you’ve gathered your research, you generally know the idea of what you want to talk about first. If you’re completely lost, choose the idea that would be a great opener – something that’s controversial, interesting or your audience would agree with. To choose what’s next in line, ask yourself, “After idea A, what is an easy transition?” If you’re going from dogs to VCRs, there’s probably not going to be an easy connection. Transitions between different sections can be made very simple if you choose topics that seem to flow well together. Also remember that nothing is set in stone. If later you realize you should have put topic B where topic F is, change it.

Because this article is so long, I’m going to cut it off here and allow you to view the rest of entry if you choose to do so. (more…)

Eating on a College Student’s Budget

Living on a tight budget means cutting back on a lot of things. One of the first things to go for college students is food, because it can be so expensive. I know how hard it is to be creative when trying to eat for only a few dollars per meal. Fortunately for you, I made a list of budget meals for college students. While they’re not all healthy, you’ll be fed with money in the bank.

Most college students can budget about $5 to $10 a day for meals each month, and Ramen noodles get old quick. I have a few tips that can help you make the most of your grocery budget without breaking the bank.

Tips for Meal Planning

Coupons

Coupons make a huge difference. You can score major discounts when you combine manufacturer coupons with your local grocery store’s coupons.

Shop Store Brand

Let’s keep it real: the only good mac and cheese is Kraft. But for most everything else, the store brand is just as delicious as name brands. In some cases, like the Costco brand Kirkland Signature, the store brand is often better!

Meal Planning

Never shop hungry and always shop with a list. Plan your meals for the week, utilizing leftovers as often as possible. You can make a crock pot full of shredded chicken on Sunday, and use it throughout the week for nachos, quesadillas, soups, burritos, chicken salad, and so on. Plan ahead so you know exactly what, and how much, you need.

Go Meatless

Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal. Try out “Meatless Mondays” for an easy way to cut a few dollars from your budget. Replace meat with black beans, tofu,

Budget Upgrades

If you’re budget is tight at the end of the month, you might still get stuck with Ramen noodles. Keep your kitchen stocked with affordable items Sriracha, green onions, dried seaweed, veggies, and soft-boiled eggs for an instant upgrade.

Buy In Bulk

If you’re lucky enough to have access to bulk stores like Costco or Winco, these are most often your most budget-friendly bets.

Budget Meal Ideas

Here is a list of cheap, but filling, meals that I eat regularly.

Meatless

  • Eggs. Scrambled, fried, poached, boiled, baked, in a frittata, as a quiche – eggs are a great source of protein.
  • Grilled cheese & tomato soup
  • Cheese quesadilla
  • Upgraded ramen
  • Protein pancakes
  • Oatmeal with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt

Meat-Based

  • hot dogs/chili dogs
  • spaghetti
  • baked fish (we live by the coast so seafood is way cheap)
  • stir-fry
  • nachos
  • hamburgers
  • jambalaya or dirty rice (ground meat is cheap, we get sausage on sale)
  • tacos (ground beef or chicken are cheaper than steak)
  • chicken quesadillas
  • if you find porkchops on sale, add mushroom soup
  • macaroni and hot dogs
  • Frito pie
  • Homemade stroganoff (I will post my recipe at some point, but you can find them online)

Pre-Packaged

  • frozen pizza
  • store brand TV dinners
  • Spaghetti-O’s (or your favorite canned meals from childhood)

How to Prioritize Your Tasks in College

On any given day, most college students have a million things to do. You must prioritize your tasks to get them done on time. Assuming your goal is to graduate on time and with good grades, here is how you should prioritize your time in college. The way you organize your tasks may look different based on your needs and your ultimate goals; but all high priority tasks should have a direct impact on your main goal.

  1.     High Priority tasks are the ones directly related to your success. These tasks are usually highly scheduled and cannot be moved in your schedule. These could be tasks like attending class, scholarship requirements, extracurricular commitments, and your job.
  2.     Medium Priority tasks are those that will help you be successful but are more flexible in scheduling. Studying, meetings, club events, and volunteer work are examples of important tasks that can be moved around.
  3.     Low Priority tasks are those things that you should do, but don’t need to do. Unfortunately, this can often include group outings and socialization events.
  4.     Preferential Tasks are the ones you want to do but have no real impact toward your goal. Going out with friends, seeing movies, self-care time, etc. Though these tasks don’t help you move toward your goal, they are still super important for your mental health. Try to schedule at least 30 minutes of preferential activities every day.

It’s okay to say no.

There are only 24 hours in the day. Sometimes, you will have to say no to things to ensure that you’re spending your time wisely. Usually the things you must decline are the fun ones, so it’s easy to feel like college is all work and no play. The best way to avoid this is to use the 80/20 rule. About 80% of your time should be spent on important tasks, and 20% should be spent on leisure time

Time Saving Tips for College Students

There’s an adage that says; “An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.” That is the perfect way to think about scheduling and time-saving tips! Putting the time and effort up front to prepare for your day or week will save you so much time in the long run. These time-saving tips will help you save time and work more effectively.

Understanding How You Use Your Time

  1. Make an outline of how you make use of your time. This will help you recognize the pattern such as time spent in activities not related to school and the time spent on your normal activities.
  2. When you have accurately recognized the pattern of how you are spending your time, it is time to find out how many hours you need to study weekly. Take into consideration how many classes you are attending, class difficulty and how many hours the classes usually take. Basically, you need to spend more time on difficult classes followed by the moderately difficult and lastly the easy classes.
  3. Make a time table. It should fit the kind of personality you have. You need the time of your classes, work (if you have), time for meal and meal preparation, etc. Create your schedule based on what works for you.
  4. Prioritize. Socializing is important, but studying is even more important. If you turn down 1 in 5 social activities, you can use the gained time to drastically improve your academic skills. Remember college is only supposed to be four years so if you get through it quicker you have more time for life.
  5. Relax. Placing too much stress on yourself sets you up for failure in dealing with difficult tasks. Nobody said achieving goals is easy.

Time-Saving Tips that Work

  • Wake up early. This sounds awful, yes, and it is at first. But those few extra minutes in the morning can help you prepare for your whole day. Review your schedule for the day, pack your bags with everything you might need, answer important emails, and get to class on time. It’s much better than waking up late, rushing through your morning routine, forgetting things in your room, and having to rush back to retrieve them between classes.
  • Prepare your clothes at night. If you are attending a school that doesn’t wear uniforms, you should plan what you should wear in the morning. This way, you save time going to school instead of ravaging through your closet or end up wearing you are not comfortable with.
  • Prepare meals or snacks. If you pack your snacks and prepare them at home, you don’t need to waste time waiting in line to get your food in a restaurant. Some people prepare several days’ worth of food at once so that they can grab it as they head out the door.
  • Schedule your research day and avoid going to the library unnecessarily. Fit the research day into your weekly schedule and don’t leave the library unless you managed to get all info you need.
  • Schedule a time to read and reply to emails. Don’t leave anything sitting in your inbox. Sort out the emails into categories or folders. If the message needs more time before replying, leave it on the to-do folder. Check out the Inbox Zero Method to stay on top of your inbox.
  • Multitasking is deadly (and rarely effective). Avoid this practice if you can.

Procrastination

  • Recognize the pattern of procrastination. Since it is a habit, you must be able to recognize when it is happening. No one can do this for you and there is no easy way to do this than becoming conscious of your own habits. Who knows what you will discover in the process?
  • Reward yourself for every project or assignment accomplished. There must be some form of redundancy in your life especially in college. Break this redundant pattern by rewarding yourself to do something different as your prize for completing a task.
  • Try peer pressure. No, this is not the same as what you’re imagining right now. It simply means you need someone to always check up on how you’re doing. Allow them to punish you and be serious with it otherwise this will not work.
  • Identify the sorts of punishment or consequences you will receive if you don’t do the task apart from grades or teacher’s reprimand. It should be grave enough to make you feel pressured. This will stimulate your mind in some way.

5 Easy Recipes for College Students

College students are usually two things: broke and busy. If you’re sick of eating ramen noodles, but still dining on a budget, these 5 easy recipes are cheap, delicious, and all have fewer than 5 ingredients.

 

Bacon Alfredo

Ingredients

  • Pasta (any kind, I use shells)
  • Bacon
  • Alfredo sauce (you can make your own or buy premade)

Directions

  • Cook pasta
  • Cook bacon
  • Pour alfredo sauce over pasta and add bacon

Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients

  • Tortillas
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Old El Paso enchilada sauce
  • Cheese of your preference, I use Colby Jack

Directions

  • Brown ground beef
  • Mix enchilada sauce, ground beef and cheese
  • Alternate layers of tortillas and beef/cheese/sauce mixture
  • Pour cheese on top
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes

Tater Tot Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cans of mushroom soup
  • 1 bag of frozen tater tots
  • shredded cheese of your preference, I use Colby Jack
  • French Fried Onions

Directions

  • Brown ground beef
  • Under cook tater tots, you want them to be partially cooked
  • Mix mushroom soup, beef, tater tots and cheese in 13×9 inch pan
  • Add cheese and French Fried Onions to the top
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes

Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients

  • Fettuccine noodles
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

  • Cook pasta.
  • In pan, melt cream cheese, milk and butter.
  • Once creamy, add parmesan cheese.
  • Pour alfredo sauce over pasta and serve.

Easy Penne Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 bag of penne pasta
  • spaghetti sauce (I use Prego)
  • cheese

Directions

  • Boil the pasta until it is almost cooked. You want it just a little undercooked, where it’s soft, but not quite done.
  • Brown the ground beef. Again, don’t completely cook. You don’t want it to be red, a little pink is okay.
  • Pour pasta, ground beef and spaghetti sauce into big dish.
  • Sprinkle cheese on the top. If you want it extra cheesy, put cheese throughout as well.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Note: This “recipe” doesn’t count on exact amounts. Pasta, beef, sauce and cheese all depends on your liking. We like a lot of meat and cheese. Some people like more pasta. You can’t really mess this up. Also, you can substitute the pasta for another kind if you’d like. Macaroni noodles work fine.

Top Educational Apps for College Students

Cell phone apps have come a long way in the past few years. There are so many free and educational apps on the market now that it can be hard to determine which ones are worth a download (and your ever-decreasing storage space). This list of educational apps includes some that your professors might also be using, like iTunes U. What would you add to this list?

SpeechNotes

Though it’s only for Android, SpeechNotes is an elevated speech-to-text app that makes taking notes in class way easier. Now that Dragon Naturally Speaking is no longer free, SpeechNotes is a great alternative for those of us who like to dictate our homework while we do more interesting things, like cooking… Or puzzles.

Dropbox

Much of college is dedicated to working on larger projects, and often that means teaming up with other people. Dropbox makes group work a breeze by allowing you to share documents on the cloud and choose who gets access to what. It’s also nice for when you somehow forgot to turn in that paper and can show your professor that you really are sending it while you’re standing in front of them instead of cheating and adding a few final touches.

Evernote

For college students who do like to take notes or documenting things, Evernote is essential. It lets you record lectures, jot down information, take photos, store documents, and even clip websites for research purposes. But the best part is that you can keep all of this information in a single, easy to find location so that when you’re studying for your essay on Chaucer or your Bio midterm, you can just access that folder and everything will be there waiting for you.

EasyBib

Yet another app by the awesome team over Chegg, EasyBib is an app that helps you generate super bibliographies super quickly. Their website is easy to use, and the app is available for Android and iOS. The best feature is that you are able to choose from MLA8, MLA7, APA, or Chicago formats.

iTunes U

iTunes U serves a dual purpose. It allows users to access tons of free education content, and you and your professors can use it to view and submit assignments, join group discussions, and view grades.

Budget Friendly Colleges in Every State

In today’s troubled economic times, people are struggling to earn enough money just to live. It’s no surprise then that many students are being forced to base their choice of a higher education institution on cost. Fortunately, there are affordable schools out there, no matter where you live, and you don’t have to sacrifice a great education in order to attend them. We’ve compiled a list of the top schools in terms of affordability and quality education for each state.

Alabama: In the land of the South, there’s no better place to be than Alabama A&M University, located in Normal. This school’s average tuition is an affordable $4,072 per year. This is an awesome place to be for anyone who is considering a career in agricultural, mechanical, or other hands-on fields.

Alaska: If you can stand the cold, then get yourself on down to Alaska Pacific University, based in Anchorage. Here, the average tuition rate is only $21,010. Best of all, you’ll get to live in one of the most happening cities in the entire state. Anchorage has a vibrant and fun college life.

Arizona: For a private school that won’t cost a fortune and to live in an awesome, thriving city, consider the American Indian College of the Assemblies of God Inc. Here, you’ll only pay around $6,645 per year. Plus, you’ll be a part of a very small student body (68 students at last count!). Not everyone is eligible but, if you are, you’ll get the most hands-on, dedicated attention you’ll find anywhere. (more…)

The Ultimate Guide to Buying and Selling College Textbooks

Textbooks are one of the most expensive costs for a college student, especially if you’re going into a major that is heavy on reading. If you’re a broke college student, finding cheap textbooks is a priority. It’s also not hard to do.

Before You Buy Your Textbooks

There are a few questions to ask yourself before you buy all the books on your syllabus.

Do I need this book?

The first step is to figure out whether you’ll use the books on your syllabus. Most professors will be honest and tell you how much you need the book. If you’ll only use the book a few times, see if you can borrow it from a classmate.

Which edition?

First step is to ask your professor, when they’re going over the syllabus is the best time, if the newest edition is necessary. Most professors, my mom included, don’t necessarily need or want you to have the newest, most expensive edition unless whatever changed is exactly what is needed for the class. Usually the new edition has a few grammatical fixes and a fancy new cover and that’s all.

eBook or real book?

Once you know you need a book, decide whether you want to buy a real book or an eBook. eBooks are more affordable and portable, but they are more difficult to highlight or otherwise annotate. Real books are more expensive, but many people find that they retain the information better when reading it from paper rather than a screen.

Renting or owning?

If you’ve settled on a real book, the next step is to decide if you want to rent or own the book. The upside to renting is it’s cheaper, but the downside is you can’t sell it at the end of the semester. If the book is going to be worthless at the end of the semester and you know this, go with renting. If you can sell it back to Amazon or another online marketplace with a textbook buy-back program, own it.

Finding the Best Prices for College Textbooks

Before your make a purchase, do some price comparisons. Many online retailers do that for you, but it’s in your best interest to visit some brick and mortar locations as well.

Bookstore prices

Go to the official campus bookstore and go to the unofficial bookstore. Check the prices on the books you need, make a nice comparison chart that will save your life.

Many college bookstores also have a book buyback program, where you can sell them your old textbooks for store credit on future textbooks or supplies.

There might also be a book swap or sell group on campus. Usually you can find signs posted, or it might be a Facebook group. This is another IRL way to get cheap books. Used books are great because important passages are typically already highlighted for you!

Online prices

Now, go home and check Craigslist, Ebay, and Half.com Add these prices to your chart. Search using the books ISBN number to get the correct edition.

Craigslist is a potential option for anyone living in a college town. Many students sell their used textbooks to other students through Facebook or Craigslist at a discounted rate.

Amazon
The Amazon we know today sells practically everything, but it was originally a bookstore. You can still find great deals on textbooks, particularly eBook versions.

Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble has many textbooks, most of which you can sell back to them when you are done.

Chegg
You can buy or rent books from Chegg for a very low price. They have a good selection of books to choose from, and if you can decide to keep a book you are renting, for a fee.

Valore Books
Valore makes it easy to find books with their ISBN search tool.

Campus Books
The best part about Campus Books is that you can use their search function to scour multiple sites for the same book. This way, you’ll always get the best price.

Compare

Now that you have your nice chart comparing prices/shipping charges, do a little math see which deal is best. If you have a school email address, you can often get Amazon Prime free for 6 months, and then at a reduced rate thereafter. This might help offset potential shipping costs, and make Amazon the best option.

Finding the best price

Throughout your search for a book, you will need to compare textbooks and find the best price. The easiest way to find cheap college books is to search websites for the ISBN and compare prices. There are tons of websites out there for you to compare prices easily and having the ISBN is the best way to do it.

Where to Sell Your College Textbooks

Most websites that sell textbooks will also buy them back, including Amazon and Valore Books. Here are a few more websites that will buy your books for real cash.

What are your tricks for finding the best deals on college textbooks?

How to Save Money in College

College can be very financially stressful, but you don’t have to acquire major debt. There are a number of ways to save money in college. The two most important are putting money into savings accounts, and not racking up major credit card debt.

Check our our tips for how to start saving money.

Finding the Best Savings Account for You

Many college students struggle with personal finance and have a hard time saving money. On top of that, many banks don’t offer a savings account that is conducive to a college student’s savings plan and budget. To get a decent interest rate, most banks require a large balance in the tens of thousands, which isn’t an easy feat for most students.

Decide on a Savings Plan

Most college students don’t think saving money is important. While it’s true you don’t necessarily have to start saving for retirement while in college, you do need a savings account. You need to plan for unexpected events and emergencies. It also helps to save money if a great opportunity, like a trip to Europe, comes up. Having the financial freedom to join your friends on a vacation is a much better choice than having to beg your parents for the funds.

If you’re saving up for something specific, like a $10,000 car, figure out how much you need to put away per month. If you’re just saving money, put away as much as you can per month. Even small savings can add up over time to large amounts of money. An extra $5 per month over a few years makes a huge difference, especially if you get a good interest rate.

Finding a Bank

The first step is finding a bank that offers what you need. You can start locally by visiting banks and credit unions in your area or you can start online by searching. Credit unions will be friendlier to smaller accounts, but you will be limited by their smaller network. While a large network is more important for checking accounts than savings accounts, this may still matter to you if you live far from home or plan on moving soon.

Choosing the Best Account

Once you find a bank that you think will work best for you, look carefully at their types of savings accounts. You want to find the best savings account for you. Look at minimum deposit amounts, monthly balances and any fees associated with the accounts. U.S. federal law only allows you to withdraw money a maximum of six times per month for an account to be considered a savings account. Most banks will turn your account into a checking account if you go over the withdraw limit, and sometimes they will charge you a fee.

Educate yourself on credit

Credit is essential. Most people can’t buy a television without it, let alone a car or a house. Credit scores are even looked at during the employment process. No credit is worse than bad credit, but you can avoid both by applying for small credit cards and using them wisely.

Tips to build your credit without hurting it first

  • Don’t apply for too much credit at once – this will hurt your score
  • If you take advantage of 0% APR grace periods, which is okay to do, be careful of the fees you’ll incur afterward. Sometimes they’re awful.
  • Don’t take out cash advances. If you really need cash for something, use the money you’d otherwise spend on food, CDs, etc. that’s in your bank account and put those purchases on your card. Regular interest is better than cash advance interest no matter how you look at it.
  • Don’t simply apply for a card just because they’re giving away free t-shirts. You might miss a $50 yearly fee because you’re distracted with presents.
  • If you can’t get credit anywhere else, try a in-store credit card at a store you frequent, but only after carefully looking over the terms. Put a small amount on the card, pay it off at the end of the month to avoid interest. Do it again each month for the next six months and apply for a better card somewhere else.
  • Remember, that if your score is low, there’s nowhere else to go but up. If you play the game right, you can have great credit without paying too much to the companies.

Choosing Your College Classes

Nearly 80% of all college students will switch majors at some point. This makes it especially difficult for incoming freshman to determine the courses they will choose for their first year of college. Don’t stress if you’re still in the “undecided” camp; these tips will help you choose your college classes for your freshman year of college.

Once you’ve declared a major, this becomes much easier. Most colleges have advisors who will help you map the required courses for your chosen degree.

Choosing Your College Classes as a Freshman

·      Use the required classes as a base.

As you are going through trying to pick out your classes, pick out and map out the classes you are required to take first. These include your degree prerequisites and the classes you need for your major.

·      Map out a four-year plan.

Before you sign up for classes you should map out a four-year plan. Update this plan each semester. You modify it to make sure it accurately reflects the completed courses and the courses still needed for your chosen degree.

·      Make a list and prioritize.

Make a list of the classes you want to take and put it next to your list of required classes. Prioritize the classes or rank them according to what classes are most important. After this you will be able to figure out where you can make sacrifices as far as your classes and scheduling goes.

·      Work that schedule.

The most difficult aspect of choosing courses is getting a reasonable schedule. Some courses are offered only during certain terms, others require prerequisites that you haven’t yet taken, and others conflict with other required classes. Look at the course guide from previous and upcoming terms to plan your long-term course schedule, and do your best to stick to it.

·      Go to class.

Go to more classes than you need the first day. You will get to see all the different classes and teachers and be able to choose better what you want for yourself. After you decide, you can drop the classes you don’t want to keep.

·      It’s okay to pivot.

As we said, many students change their major as late as their fifth term in college. The good news is that the prerequisites for most majors are the same. Unless you choose a wildly different major halfway through college, you’re likely to still graduate on time if you work hard.

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