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Health Student Life

How to Destress and Take Care of Your Mental Health During Finals Week

April 12, 2022
Learning how to destress during Finals Week

Maintaining good mental health during one of the most stressful times of the year for college students can be tricky, so it’s crucial to have many tips, tricks, and resources to turn to when things become too difficult to handle. 

First things first, avoid burnout and create a healthy routine. With enough time allocated to self-care, it’s important that you maintain good mental health. Stress from school can manifest in many different emotional and physical symptoms, so knowing how to cope with these will give you an edge up. Keep reading for six of the most important healthy ways to reduce stress during finals week, according to Active Minds.

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Safety Student Life

Spring Break: A College Student’s Guide to Risks

March 7, 2022

Nationwide, nearly 20 million college students are preparing to take their midterm exams before heading off to enjoy spring break. With dropping Covid-19 case numbers and an overall better outlook on the pandemic, many students are extra eager to escape from hectic college life. 

Before students leave campus, GradGuard, the nation’s leading authority on helping protect college students and their families from the risks of college life, recommends students consider the following tips so they are prepared if something goes wrong. Here are five tips for college students as they embark on long-awaited spring break adventures.  

Protect your health

Be sure you have your health insurance card, and if applicable, your COVID-19 vaccination card, with you and confirm your student health insurance will work while traveling.  

Protect personal belongings

Be sure to consider purchasing GradGuard’s renters insurance, which is specifically designed for college students. It provides coverage for students’ belongings not only while on campus but also while they are traveling worldwide.

Protect your identity

Be prepared with backup identification cards by taking photos of all your personal IDs and payment cards. If your wallet is stolen, you can quickly restore your life and return home easily.

Protect your trip

If you are leaving the United States, travel insurance can be a smart purchase and can include valuable services to help you overcome a financial loss and also help you return home in case something goes wrong on your trip.

Protect your dorm or apartment

Remember you are likely responsible for damages that may occur at your campus residence while you are away.  Be sure to turn off all electronics and appliances before leaving.  But if something happens, GradGuard’s renters insurance can provide coverage for damages that occur while you are away from school.

It’s important to understanding the risks of college life and to consider these tips before spring break. Students and families may be surprised that they will likely lose hundreds, if not thousands of dollars if their semester is disrupted by a theft, unintentional damage to their student housing or a medical condition forces them to withdraw.

GradGuard’s renters insurance enables students and families to easily replace a bike, laptop, cell phone, or other items that are stolen or damaged, not only while the student is on campus, but also while they are traveling to and from school or away on vacation.  In addition, GradGuard’s industry-leading tuition insurance program allows families to get a refund if they are forced to withdraw from school for covered medical conditions including COVID-19.

While students have diverse goals for spring break, students are smart to be prepared and to protect themselves from a financial loss that could disrupt their semester or create greater financial stress. Have a happy and healthy spring break!

Health

How to Support a Friend Struggling with Their Mental Health

January 19, 2022

We all go through periods of self-doubt, feelings of sadness and despair, and a lack of motivation. Sometimes we don’t want to share this with others. Other times, we may have had people there for us. It’s essential to be there for people we love when struggling with their mental health.

The past few years have been difficult for many amidst the pandemic. Many young adults are struggling with their mental health, and it’s important to know what signs to look out for. Read on for what to look for and how to offer support.

21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020 (52.9 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration

Looking Out for Signs

Mental health is a very sensitive subject that many people tend to undermine, and it can be uncomfortable to talk about. Knowing the signs to look out for in your friends who might be struggling with mental health issues is crucial, so we are able to support them when they need us most. Some things to look out for when trying to distinguish when a friend of yours might be struggling with their mental health are sudden changes in behavior, appearance, mood, or actions.

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Other

7 Free Apps That Make College Life Simple

December 23, 2021
Apps to help in College

College life brings a new amount of responsibility. Students suddenly have to manage more aspects of their lives than they did back in high school. From finances to homework, handling it all can be overwhelming. Thankfully, the digital age makes it easy and straightforward. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you have your choice of hundreds of apps to keep you organized.

To get you started, here are seven free apps that make management simple.

1. Mint

Mint is a free financial tracking app that lets you see all of your accounts and expenses in one place, which is very useful for college and beyond. Its bank-level security means that you can’t move funds, but neither can anyone else. You can track costs like rent, food, gas, and car payments. It’s easy to see when bills are due and where those sneaky hidden fees come in. You’ll even get notifications about unusual activity. Instead of trying to manage your money in your head or in stacks of papers, keep it all together in one simple app.

2. Chegg 

Chegg is geared toward renting, buying and returning textbooks. With the mobile app, you simply scan the barcode to compare the best prices between Chegg and other book retailers. You can even sell your books directly to them, check shipping and due dates, and extend or purchase your rentals. Textbooks are expensive and many of them are priced between $80-$200. So, take advantage of an app that’ll help you save that money for other things.

3. Evernote 

Store everything from lists to websites and music files in this award-winning free app. Evernote lets you keep your class notes, recipes, pictures, ideas and more in one easy to access place. It works with almost all computers and mobile devices. Sync your notes between devices so that it’s always up to date. Did a friend mention a good movie at lunch? Write it down in Evernote so you can look it up later. Create multiple notebooks for easy navigation and use tags to search anything in an instant.

4. StudyBlue 

Create high quality flashcards in any subject to help you study on the go. You can quiz yourself and keep track of your score while waiting in line or during lunch breaks. The StudyBlue website allows you to search through hundreds of shared flashcards on any subject that students everywhere have made.

5. MyHomework

myHomework lets you easily keep track of assignments and due dates by color coding projects based on priority. You’ll know exactly what’s finished, what’s due and what’s late. For each day, you can see what classes you have and what homework to do. This app is great if you have trouble planning ahead for your assignments or if you can’t keep track of all your projects in your head.

6. Wikipanion 

Get instant access to Wikipedia with this mobile app. You can bookmark and save pages to read later, create folders and share with your friends. Wikipanion formats each page for optimal viewing on iPhones and iPads, meaning all information is easy to see. Just don’t tell your professors you’re using it.

7. SparkNotes 

The infamous “cheat” website now has an app that comes with 50 pre-installed study guides and access to many more online. Read up on Shakespeare or Dickinson in the ten minutes it takes to walk to class. Use it to look up summaries of that chapter you just couldn’t get to last night. Your English professors may roll their eyes, but at least you’ll be better prepared than if you’d read nothing at all.

College life can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Keep it together with these apps so you’ll have more time to enjoy your experience.

For more information on how to best prepare for college, visit GradGuard!

Stay organized and protect your sanity with free apps for college students!

Student Life

10 Must Watch Family Holiday Movies

December 21, 2021

It is nearing the end of December, and with that comes the end of the holiday season… This close to the season calls for a comprehensive round-up of some of the most nostalgic, iconic holiday classics. Watching holiday movies is a fun activity that families can do together to spend time with one another while students are home on break. As kids grow up and become teenagers, the desire to spend time as a family becomes less appealing, so thinking of ways that sound fun to do as a family is essential.  

Here is a list of ten must-watch holiday movies:

The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

This movie is about a heartless creature (The Grinch) who has no holiday cheer and decides he is going to ruin Christmas for the citizens of Whoville. With the help of his ill-fated dog, Max, the Grinch descends from his house upon the mountain top to snipe all Christmas-related items and decor from the town. A slight obstacle gets in the way of his plan to ruin Christmas when he meets a sweet girl named Cindy Lou Who. This movie is available to be watched on Hulu, Peacock, Youtube, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime. 

Elf (2003)

This movie is about Buddy, a human who was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a baby raised by elves there. When he becomes an adult, he realizes that he does not fit in with the other elves and journeys to New York in an attempt to find out where he really comes from. He meets his real father there, causing a series of chaotic events that unfold in the city. This movie is available to be watched on Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and Youtube. 

The Polar Express (2004)

This movie is about a doubting young boy who embarks on an extraordinary train ride that ventures him to the North Pole, where he encounters some interesting people and friends that help him realize that the spirit of Christmas lives on in the people who choose to believe. This movie is available on many different streaming platforms, including HBO Max, Youtube, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime. 

Home Alone (1990)

This first movie in the Home Alone series is about a young boy who gets left alone at his family home in Chicago when his family reluctantly forgets him there on the way to the airport for their family trip to Paris. When Kevin wakes up the next day, he realizes his family is nowhere to be found and is happy to believe that his wish for his family to leave him alone has come true, until his excitement turns to concern as two con men begin attacks of robbery on his family home. He is left alone to try and ward off these thieves and protect the house himself. This movie is available on Disney+, Youtube, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV. 

A Christmas Story (1983)

This movie is about a young boy who attempts to convince his parents of the importance 

of receiving his dream Christmas present, a “Red Ryder Air Rifle.” The other half of the time, he spends dodging a bully. It is up to him to maintain both his hopes and self-preservation. This movie is available on Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Youtube, TBS, and TNT. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

This movie is about Jack Skellington, the friendly neighborhood Pumpkin King who becomes bored of his annual routine of scaring the town this year. He stumbles upon a beautiful, joyful, brightly colored Christmas town and decides that he will take over the role of Santa Claus to experience a new life. This movie is available on Disney+, Youtube, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV. 

The Santa Claus (1994)

This movie is about a divorced dad, Scott, who custody his son on Christmas Eve. Scott is very reluctant to believe this, but he has killed Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and is magically transported to the North Pole, where an elf tells him that he now must take Santa’s place and do so before next Christmas. Scott believes that this has to be a dream but soon concludes that this must be real as, over the year, he grows a white beard and starts to fill out. This movie is available on Disney+, Youtube, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV.

Unaccompanied Minors (2006)

This movie is about a group of five minors who get trapped at an airport when a blizzard hits on Christmas Eve. The kids have a chance to run wild and get to experience some fun at the airport by sliding down baggage chutes and driving golf carts. The kids present unmatched stress and irritation for the airport official and his assistant. This movie is available on Netflix, Youtube, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime. 

Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas (2004)

Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas is a selection of short stories rather than a film. There are 5 stories, and each story is about 10 minutes long. Stories include Belles On Ice, Christmas Impossible, Christmas Maximus, Donald’s Gift, and Mickey’s Dog-Gone Christmas. This movie is available on Disney+, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime. 

Arthur Christmas (2011)

This movie is about the behind-the-scenes work that goes on to accomplish the success that encompasses Christmas. One year, when Santa Claus forgets to deliver a present to one child, it becomes Santa’s youngest who is tasked with saving the day out of a hundred million. Arthur, Santa’s youngest son, sets out on his mission to deliver this young boy’s present before the new day, Christmas day, dawns. This movie is available on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Youtube, and Apple. 

Spend some time together this holiday season before heading back to work or returning to campus in January. Happy watching!

Other

Student Health Insurance Review by the Wall Street Journal

December 17, 2021
Wall Street Journal Student Health Care Review

The September 26th edition of the Wall Street Journal published an article titled  “How College Health Plans Are Failing Students”. The article written by Jessical Silver-Greenberg and Mary Pilon, is comprehensive in its discussion of the limits of many school sponsored student health plans. However, it failed to address just how few affordable choices students have if the school plan does not meet their needs.

Unlike permanent health insurance, these Student Health Plans are designed for students and often times schools are trying to balance affordability with coverage needed at that particular life stage.   Schools and insurers alike should be creating more choice for students so they can find the right plan to meet their needs while making certain all options provide acceptable standards of coverage.

Please read the entire article on WSJ.com or to see some of the highlights included here:

Changing Regulations:

The new health care legislation has immediate and potentially long term consequences for college students.

“On Thursday, (blog note – September 23rd) the first big pieces of the new health-care overhaul took effect. Among other things, the rules mandate that insurance companies offer coverage to adult children until the age of 26 and devote at least 80% of their revenue to health-care costs.   But one major player was notably absent from these new rule changes: colleges. They have managed to sidestep, at least for now, the regulatory clampdown that has sent hospitals, insurers and corporations scrambling.   How’d they pull it off? Since student plans for the school year were negotiated before Sept. 23, they aren’t subject to the regulations this year.

The health-care overhaul has major implications for young adults and their parents. For the first time, parents will have the choice of keeping their graduate-student children on their corporate insurance plans or opting for cheaper college plans.

There is broad consensus that, as a group, college health-insurance plans rank among the worst in the nation for consumers. Many college plans come with remarkably low benefit ceilings—in some cases as little as $2,500.    Others limit areas of coverage, such as preventative services and chemotherapy.

The upshot: Students are often much less insured than they think they are. In extreme cases high-school seniors with health issues might be advised to consider a college’s health plan before attending.

The college health-care system is a hodgepodge of school plans and private insurance. According to the Government Accountability Office, more than half of the nation’s colleges offer school-sponsored plans. All told, about 80% of college students, nearly 7 million people, are covered by private or public health insurance.…

Most schools aim to provide the best care for the lowest cost. Students tend to be healthier than the general population, so school plans don’t need the safety nets found in adult plans. “

Change in Status of Group Plans?

The WSJ article goes on to discuss the debate surrounding how the new health care legislation applies to college sponsored plans.

“The American College Health Association “is supporting regulatory clarification that would allow student plans to preserve the grouplike status that is vital to providing lower cost coverage to students,” says Jake Baggott, ACHA’s advocacy coalition chair. Dr. Turner, ACHA’s president until June, says the spirit of his conversation with the White House was that “they would be happy to include in the regulations the necessary language to assure preservation of the plans.”

Insurers seem to be confident they will get their way. According to three people familiar with the matter, Aetna has told colleges that they have nothing to worry about because their plans will be exempted. Aetna says it never conveyed that message to its members. “We expect that all student plans that wish to be credible will comply with minimum coverage requirements as soon as possible,” says Ethan Slavin, a spokesman for the insurer.  Good insurance plans are marked by a few elements, among them benefit ceilings of at least $250,000, generous prescription drug plans and emergency room coverage. According to the GAO, more than half of all school plans have ceilings of less than $30,000.

Parents and students can get the most for their money by carefully examining school plans before signing up. Health-care planning should come long before enrollment, says James A. Boyle, president of the College Parents of America, a Virginia-based nonprofit.”

Questions to Ask?

“Anyone considering a school plan should ask a number of questions, say experts:

• What is the maximum benefit for the policy?

• Are prescriptions and mental health services included?

• What happens to coverage if you leave school, go abroad or graduate?

• What is the loss ratio?

• Do any on-campus services, such as checkups or flu shots, overlap with existing coverage?

Parents who are considering keeping their child on their personal insurance should ask their benefits representative or insurer about how coverage will be carried over on campus and off—especially at schools far from home. (This also applies to graduate students and to adult children under age 26.) They should also be ready to sign a waiver with the school so they’re not charged for automatic enrollment in a campus policy.

If, after getting all these answers, both the employer and school insurance options seem unappealing, parents should consider using a site like eHealthInsurance.com, which allows for comparison browsing among 10,000 plans from 180 carriers.  (Blog Note – eHealth provides the GradGuard Student Health Plan as its national alternative for students.)

 

Other Transition

Wrapping Up Classes Before Graduation: 5 Tips to Help You Now and Later

December 14, 2021

It’s the last semester of your undergrad career; congratulations! Soon you’ll be free of homework, essays, required readings, and tests. But not so fast. You may be painfully close to that finish line, but you haven’t crossed it yet, and it’s essential to end your college career strong. So as you’re wrapping up your classes this semester, be sure to follow these tips:

1. Tie Up Loose Ends

You might be wrapped up with finals and term papers at the moment, but don’t forget about anything that’s been lingering on your to-do list for a while. If you’re unsure about your grade for a particular class, ask what your current standing is. If you know you haven’t done well, try bargaining for some extra credit assignments, or see if you can get any points for turning in missing assignments late. Do what you can to get your workload and assignments squared away for your classes. Your grades can only improve, and you’ll be glad about that later!

2. Stay Motivated

Think about all the hard work you’ve put in during your time at college. You owe it to yourself to finish things with a bang. Don’t let senioritis get you down; stay motivated! As always, time management is an important factor here. Balance work and play, but remember, there will be plenty of time for play after the semester ends. Think about the relief you’ll feel when all your assignments are turned in, and your finals are finished. Keep your motivation by focusing on the end goal: finishing your last semester and feeling proud of the work you’ve done. 

3. Get Recommendations

Before you leave class for good, it can be a smart idea to secure a letter of recommendation or two. You can ask a favorite professor, adviser, or student organization faculty officer. Even if you don’t need the letter right away, it can be helpful to get one from them now while you’re still fresh in their minds (the note will sound less generic that way!). 

4. Hang On to Some of Your Work

As you’re nearing the end of your last semester, it might be tempting to pitch anything school-related straight into the recycle bin. But think before you toss! Odds are you still have projects and papers saved on your computer; make sure to keep the strong pieces. You might need writing samples for applying to grad school programs and future jobs. As for class materials, think about what might be valuable to you post-graduation. You’re bound to forget some of what you learned, so if you have organized, convenient packets of information from your classes, file them away so you can reference them later!

5. Keep Contact Info

It can be beneficial to stay in touch with professors after graduation, so if you connected with an instructor, make sure to keep their contact info. You might end up wanting to email them in the not-too-distant future to ask about their industry, solicit advice, ask about jobs in the field, or just to let them know that you’d like to list them as a reference on an application.

Student Life

How to Alleviate the Stress That Comes With Being Undecided in College

August 29, 2021
Happy

Let’s face it. There is an unrealistic amount of pressure for young adults to “know” what they want to do with the rest of their life. Before they know it, students are sitting in a college counselor’s office deciding on a major at only eighteen years old, a decision that could determine their entire future. It’s important to know that you are not alone if you feel lost about what path to follow toward your future. There will be people you meet in your careers that, at any age, will tell you they are still exploring different careers and trying to figure out what they truly want to do. Here are a few things to note that will help alleviate the stress and pressure you can feel from being undecided in college. 

Many Students Will Change Their Major

Almost 75% of students will change their major at least once. Even if you feel like all your friends have it figured it out and are confident in the major they chose, chances are they will change it or adjust their emphasis before graduating. With this in mind, focus on taking your prerequisite courses that will be needed regardless of the major you choose. 

Your Major Does Not Limit You to a Single Career Path

Many students believe that the major they pick will lock them down into a field where they will never be able to venture out. This is not true at all as there will be multiple career opportunities presented to you regardless of your major. A large percentage of people do not have a career in the field where they have a degree. This is not to say the knowledge that they learned from their undergraduate and graduate programs is not being utilized (as there are many ways in which those skills are valuable), but there is a sense of comfort in knowing that, for example, you can study psychology and still work in the business field.

There is No Rush in Figuring Out What to Do 

There is a lot of stress put onto figuring out what to do and not enough emphasis on the importance of figuring out what we don’t want to do. Explore different jobs and internships, take unique elective class courses, and start crossing things off the list that you decide don’t feel right. Don’t get discouraged by taking up opportunities that you end up not liking, it is still a step in the right direction.

With figuring out what you want to do, looking at other students and rushing to explore your educational and future careers, it can be a lot to handle all at once as an undergraduate student. It is important to keep in mind that there is no rush to success, and everything you do is leading you towards the best path for your future. 

Student Life

Student Housing: A History

August 26, 2021
On Campus Job

Living on campus has become a staple for American universities not only as a marker of social interaction but as a sharp transition into adulthood. Students living among their peers provides a space where they can be surrounded by those in the same life stages as them as well as build bonds that enhance their education and social spheres. There are many pros and cons associated with living on campus, but what strengthens the influence of student housing is that it has been supported and evolved since the seventeenth century. Many factors and differences in both the architectural development of dormitories and the integration of students represent the importance of college residency over time in both students’ educational lives as well as social development. 

How It All Began

The first residence hall was constructed at the Indian College at Harvard University in 1650 as an area of exclusion and segregation meant to keep the Native Americans separated from other students. As colleges were increasingly run by religious denominations, such as Protestants, the establishment of a residence hall quickly turned into a means of keeping university students in compliance with religious ideals and implementing moral standards. This made the influence of dormitories geared to strengthen integrity as well as education rather than implement social activity. As their use became more widespread, not all students agreed with the implication of moral standards and constrictive religious applications. Fraternity houses, established in the mid nineteenth century, became hubs for social activity, male bonding and finding future business partners. Greek organizations, therefore, served a prominent role in directing college housing towards social interaction and away from religious and moral practices. 

What Residence Structure Reveals About History 

The evolution of campus housing design reveals a great deal about the standards of different time periods and how this affected socialization. From the beginning of college residency, segregation of gender, race and monetary status became a key aspect of how college residency was structured. This is seen throughout different decades as many people of color were not allowed to live in the dormitories of white students up until the civil rights movement in the1960’s, and they were either given no living space or had to find living quarters where they would not run into other students. Fraternity houses noted a general difference in students who could afford to live in the upscale mansions provided by alumni versus those who were only able to reside in the cheaper college dorms., highlighting exclusivity. As more women began obtaining undergraduate degrees, universities designed female dormitories different from the male’s. In order to rear women towards their suggested domestic lifestyle, their residence halls were designed like houses with large parlors, living areas and more in order to entertain and focus on socialization. Their dorms were also built safer than others as women were seen to need more protection. Stark architectural differences are seen before and after World War II. After the war, colleges let go of the courtyard-style set up and adopted the modern high-rise architecture to avoid spending more time and money.

While it is interesting to note the different time periods and historical situations college residency has been through, it is equally important to recognize the many steps that were taken for on campus housing to become what it is today. There have been modifications, set-backs and progressions, all of which mark just how far these educational institutions have come. Through thick and thin, on campus housing has always been a reflection of the importance of not only entering adulthood, but finding ways to make public interaction and socialization a key part of each student’s education and future.

Student Life

How to Be Uniquely You in Your First Year of College

August 23, 2021

In the midst of meeting new people who have various backgrounds and habits, it can be difficult not to compromise who you are, but it can be done.

One of the most important lessons you can learn early in life is that being yourself is the most interesting thing you can do . Losing sight of who you truly are in the midst of socializing with different crowds is an unfortunate but common experience of young college students. 

As a young adult, once you figure out that being yourself is what allows you to find people who support and are excited to be friends with you, being authentically yourself becomes a lot easier. The sooner you realize this, the better off you will be. Experiencing different crowds and participating in a wide variety of activities is meant to help college students figure out who they are and what they want to do with their time. 

It may take some time to figure out what strikes individual interest and what types of people you should surround yourself with, but with so many different opportunities to experience and different groups of people to meet, figuring that out comes easy in college. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is to maintain your own self worth. Setting initial boundaries on how you want to be treated ensures that you will be respected, and people will appreciate those standards and work to meet them. 

Maintaining your unique personality is one of the most important things to achieve when in college because it allows you to attract other like minded people and situations that you will naturally gravitate towards and enjoy. 

Young students commonly shift how they act or who they are around new people, but with time and a better understanding that being yourself is what makes you stand out, it becomes easier to maintain your unique identity.