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Julia Downs

Other Transition

College Orientation Checklist!

August 26, 2017

So the time has finally come. Can’t wait to start your first year of college?  Well, before your classes get rolling and before you know the ropes, you’ll probably be attending a student orientation. Yippie! Depending on the school, orientation can last anywhere from a day to a whole week.  During orientation, you’ll learn a lot about your new school and your new classmates.

Below is a list of 5 things that you should bring for your orientation.

  1. A pen
    You’ll receive plenty of paperwork during orientation.  When you are taken for tours around campus and if you attend assemblies, your group’s orientation leader may have pamphlets with relevant information to give you.  They can be from places like the academic center, the health center, or even the library. Always listen to what your leader has to say; they are seasoned college students and are trained to know what’s what.  If you keep a pen handy, you can jot down any additional information that you’ll want to remember.  It’s also helpful to write down the times and locations of various orientation events that are being offered, so that you’re sure to stay on schedule.

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Other Safety Transition

Packing for College – Some items Parents Shouldn’t Forget that don’t require any room!

August 8, 2017

Your car and student bags are likely overflowing, but here are a few vital things that college parents should remember that don’t require extra room.

Five additional items that you must not forget:

1) Create a personal file.While getting their belongings together, students should set up a file of key personal information, including a copy of their driver’s license, insurance cards, Social Security card, debit and credit cards and immunization records. Using a digital tool such as Evernote can be a smart idea as it will allow you to have all the information you need at your finger tips and can be easily shared.  A passport or a copy of one also is useful, both for travel and to confirm citizenship if you apply for a job.

2) Complete the FERPA form – before leaving your student at college be sure to discuss your expectations for how you can support their education and how you will be able to help them during a crisis.  Without your student providing permission, you will not have access to their university records.  Most colleges provide a form to complete during orientation or within the student account or you can also use the FERPA authorization form provided through College Parents of America.

3) Purchase at least some Tuition Insurance.  Starting at $29.95 for $2,500 of coverage per term tuition insurance is an affordable way to protect your investment in college.   It is vital to understand your college refund policy.   Most colleges don’t refund money after day 25 – even for illness, injury or disability – so you could be out thousands of dollars.   Tuition insurance may not be something you needed in high school or something you have even heard of, but most students would benefit by having at least a minimum of $5,000 of annual college refund insurance. 

4) Renters Insurance. “Don’t forget that colleges are not likely to replace stolen or damaged property of your student.  In addition, you may or may not have coverage for your student within your homeowner’s insurance policy which normally has limits of coverage including the full-time status of your student and up to 10% of your property coverage.  Expensive items like that new computer may not be fully covered; if you are worried about replacing it, then be sure to purchase renters insurance which costs typically less than fifty cents a day.  For protecting your stuff consider a college specific renters insurance plan such as those offered through GradGuard – which includes worldwide property coverage, replacement level coverage, and personal liability coverage.

5) Health Insurance.  Though you are not likely to forget it, we recommend that college families consider your alternatives when it comes to student health insurance.  See this useful and comprehensive article by The New York Times.   Your first choice is likely going to be your family policy.   If you are looking at buying your campus recommended plan, we suggest comparing the features and benefit levels.  If money is particularly tight and your student is in good health, then it is also possible to consider using a short-term medical plan while relying on the primary care services of the university health center.

Remember, that each of these tasks can be done before actually moving to campus, but purchasing tuition insurance must also be completed prior to the start of classes.   You can not purchase tuition insurance after the start of classes.

Other Safety

How to Have Safe Parties this Summer

July 23, 2017

Summertime is coming to an end quickly! And with the summer comes tons of pool parties, barbecues, and late night bonfires. But when people plan these celebrations of the sun, most don’t think about the consequences and dangers involved. While parties in the summer can be some of the most fun, they can also come with the most danger and risks, both for those throwing the party and those enjoying it. So here are some tips to help you have a fun and safe summer!

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Health Other

After College Health!

June 30, 2017

Graduating from college is a huge milestone, but the harsh reality of life will slap you in the face soon after!  Successfully Adulting is fun but is a process that social media today does not show. In high school, you didn’t have to worry about getting a job, finding an affordable place to live, and most importantly purchasing your own insurance.

Usually, companies offer some sort of health care benefits for their employees.  However, college graduates are struggling to find a stable job that utilizes their degree. Employers are starting to reduce health care benefits to cut company costs.  Health care is a national issue that is affecting every employed and unemployed individual.

Years ago, Congress passed COBRA  in order to aid workers who lose their health insurance benefits due to job loss.  This gives these individuals and their families an option to continue their current health benefits provided by their group health plan under certain circumstances.  COBRA can be beneficial for college graduates who were covered under their parent’s health insurance plan while in school.  If graduates opt to be covered under COBRA, premiums will probably be very costly. The good news is you can stay on your parent’s health insurance until you are twenty-six.  However if

However, if you are leaving are a recent college graduate who is in the process of finding a job, you may also benefit from short term medical insurance.  Short-term medical insurance can help you pay for medical expenses in case your suffer an accident, injury or illness.  This coverage may not help you pay for primary health coverage, but it will give you some peace of mind regarding those large medical expenses that could result from a medical emergency.  In all cases, make sure you have medical coverage to pay for the expenses required to restore your health in case of an unexpected health problem.



Adulting Other

Traveling Abroad This Summer?

June 16, 2017

Studying abroad can be a fun and enjoyable experience for students. It’s the chance to broaden your horizon and experience how living in another country compares to the United States. In all of the fun that goes into traveling, do not forget to consider the safety measures.

When traveling internationally for school or just for fun, accidents happen, and having insurance can save you and the people you travel with. Travelers insurance covers emergency and medical costs, including your property if it gets stolen. This is very helpful when traveling with expensive items.

Before heading on your adventure, here are some serious things to consider:

1. Inform close friends and relatives of your travel plans and give them all the details. Provide your living arrangements, numbers you may be reached at (a cell phone is not enough), departure/ arrival dates and times, etc. Preparing this in a nice neat packet is an excellent habit to create.

2. Discuss your travel plans with a physician. Within your doctor’s visit, be sure you are medically prepared and have at least the following:

-an up to date physical

-immunizations required for your destination and any layovers you may have

-sufficient prescriptions for the entirety of your trip

3. Research the area you are visiting. There is a part of town you should avoid, restaurants you must try, and sites you have to see. Knowing what to expect when you arrive will ease your traveling stress.

4. You should dress for the weather and dress for your destination. Dress conservatively, do not wear expensive jewelry or those designer jeans. You will look like less of a tourist, making your trip safer and more enjoyable.

5. Look into travelers’ insurance. As many insurance policies do not apply to overseas trips. Travelers insurance protects you should a medical emergency occur and your belongings should they be stolen or lost.

6. Make sure your passport and other travel documents are in order. The U.S. Homeland Security recently revised passport regulations requiring additional checks and new procedures. Be sure to check your passport will be accepted when you leave and re-enter the country.

7. Do not leave before you are confident you can afford the trip. Make sure you have a cushion in your bank account, accidents and hidden expenses are more common than you may think. Check that you will be able to access your bank account at your destination as well.

8. Be sure to only drink bottled water! Traveling can be exciting but staying hydrated is essential.

If you are a student traveling abroad enjoy yourself but please, prepare accordingly. The world is yours to conquer, don’t let it conquer you!

Other Transition

Commencement is Quickly Approaching

May 5, 2017

Commencement is quickly approaching! The light at the end of the tunnel is finally within arm’s reach.


T0 make your last weeks at school easier, be sure to do the following:

  • Completing your senior audit with your advisor– It ’s very important to be sure that you have all of the required classes you need to graduate and received your diploma in a few weeks. If anything is missing, your advisor can help you figure out a plan to get back on track.
  • Turning in your graduation application– It is imperative to fill out any required documents and return them before the deadline. Don’t let a simple form keep you from walking in graduation.
  • Make sure all fees are paid for- Stopping by financial aid and student accounts is a smart move to be sure that any outstanding bills have been satisfied and you are in good financial standing with the institution.
  • Start planning for summer- This is the time to plan a solo trip or a family vacation. You also have a chance to get ahead of the game and pick up an internship to build up your professional experience. Take advantage of your newfound freedom.


Students across the country are preparing for this monumental moment in life. The right preparation can help you stay ahead of your deadlines and save you the stress by procrastination.


Health Other

Eating healthy in College

April 27, 2017

Summer is almost here! The hot weather is starting to be here to stay and along with that comes more revealing clothes and thinner material. Although you should always be eating healthy and exercising. The summer is a great incentive to really get the ball rolling. The good news is you can be proactive by adding quick nutrients to your diet in hopes to minimize your risk of weight gain. When you visit your dining hall be sure to make sure at least 50% of your plate is green and leafy! Like what you see?


  1. Visit for more info.

This website is a great overview of quick do’s and don’ts to make sure you have great food decisions.

  1. Visit

Teen Vogue has such an easy read on 10 easy ways to eat healthy in college and teaches on how to listen to your body.

  1. Visit

The quick nerd fitness blog gives a nice overview on workout routines that can be done coupling that with exercise.

  1. Visit

This article goes over the recommended daily intake and breaks down how unhealthy food affects the body.

  1. Visit

Choose my plate is a movement that is beginning with helping college students eat healthy and work with their campus to promote health in young adults.

Health Other

Why Should You Have Renters Insurance in College?

March 24, 2017

How much stuff are you bringing with you to college?

In today’s day and age, students are packing up their entire childhood room and bringing it to college. With gadgets and appliances getting more expensive, the average student doesn’t have the means to replace their belongings for school right away if they get stolen or ruined.

That’s where GradGuard™ College Renters Insurance comes in! It can be there to help students when the unexpected happens. With useful features such as liability coverage and replacement cost, College Renters Insurance can help students get back to what matters: their education.

Watch the video below to learn about why GradGuard Renters Insurance is a must for college:

Other Transition

An Illustrated Guide to Planning a College Visit

March 20, 2017

Every year, hundreds of high school juniors and seniors travel to their potential university to receive a firsthand view. What better way to compare schools by getting great hands on experience and exploring the area with mom and dad?

Planning which university to attend can be an overwhelming process, but it can also be a great opportunity to find the perfect fit and have fun while doing it. It is impossible to tour every college, especially if your choices are far away from one another. This is where planning comes into play. Start your search by researching schools online, take a virtual tour, browse through the admissions section, check out the classes offered and events taking place. Try and visit all different types of schools from urban to more rural, large, small, far away from home and the one in your backyard. Get a good feel of exactly what you want, and you might be surprised!

A visit to a college gives you the opportunity to speak with students, faculty and staff, and even see a dorm room! It’s important to begin to accumulate a running list of questions to ask along the way to prevent judging a book by its cover. “How to Plan a College Visit” by Amy Whitley does a great job of placing all the important areas into easy and actionable guides.

Here are some highlights:

Plan your visit in advance and book a tour ahead of time.

Try and avoid busy times such as move-in day and times where the campus might be empty, like a school holiday.

Don’t forget to take in your surroundings and ask questions. How do students get around? What is the general atmosphere around campus?

Check out the nearby hangout spots and neighborhood to get a feel for the community surrounding campus.

Make your college visit a family trip, tour the city, check out the local cuisine and embrace this exciting time!

For more tips on planning your college visit, check out the full post here.