All Posts By

Julia Shuruyeva

Other Safety

Spring Break: Important Safety Tips

March 11, 2017


It’s that time of year again—time to pack up and get pumped for your upcoming spring break. Throw textbooks and worries to the wind as you enjoy your much-needed break from hectic college life. While this is definitely a time for celebrating, you shouldn’t be quite so carefree as to forget about safety. Before heading out, be sure to look over this list of tips for spring break safety.

Leaving your dorm or apartment:
First thing’s first: before leaving for spring break, you’ll need to secure your room and belongings. Follow your dorm regulations with the basics like defrosting your mini fridge and taking out the trash, but also take measures to keep your belongings safe. Take your valuables with you or store them out of sight in your room. You can also consider renters insurance to help protect your personal property. And of course, remember to lock up! 

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Career Other

4 Things To Do If Your Grades Are Slipping

October 20, 2016

We often start each semester full of hope and excitement that this time will be the time we do everything we set out to do. When we get close to (or achieve) those goals, it’s a great feeling!

There are, however, semesters that end up being way more difficult than we anticipated. Sometimes you find yourself puzzled about why your grades are the way they are, and even more confused about how to fix things before it’s too late.

Here’s a list of 4 items to help get you back on the right track:

Take stock of the situation.

You can’t fix anything until you know what it is that needs to be fixed. Figure out which classes you are struggling in and try to isolate the reason(s) you are having difficulty. Are you just not on the same page as your professor? Is the reading schedule too difficult for you to keep up with? Is the material simply not clicking for you?

Grab a notebook and draw three columns. Fill the left column with the names of the courses that are causing you trouble, and fill in the middle column with the reasons you think are causing this to happen.

Once you’ve taken the time to write all this down, see if there are any common threads between these classes. Is your schedule something that keeps on coming up repeatedly? Are you noticing that all of your classes have material that is more difficult to master than you thought?

Highlight any reasons that are the same or somewhat similar in nature.

Come up with solutions to the reasons that are preventing you from doing well.

Now that you’ve isolated the specific reasons that you aren’t doing as well as you should be, it’s time to figure out what specific actions you need to take.

If the material is too difficult, this is the time to consider tutoring, or at least meeting with the professor during office hours to develop a better plan to deal with it. If you’re having a tough time focusing because of too much going on in your personal life, figure out ways to change your schedule or look into therapy if your emotions are getting difficult to manage on your own. Basically, come up with realistic first steps to solve whatever the issues are.

Write the solutions down in the right column.

Take the first steps to resolve the issues you’ve identified.

Now that you’ve taken stock of the situation and come up with actionable ways to improve it, the real work starts.

Actually going through with declining social engagements to free up more time for studying won’t be fun, but it will be necessary if that’s what it’ll take for your grades to improve. Meeting with a professor to admit that you’re not doing well will be intimidating, but keeping them in the loop and showing that you are willing to put in the work to fix the situation may allow them to connect you to resources you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.

Break up the larger overall solutions into small, bite-size items… and start doing them!

Monitor your situation and be ready to adjust your plans as you uncover more information.

After doing the first few items on your list, you may start to feel a bit better about your situation. That’s the beauty of breaking down large ideas into smaller “to-do” items.

As you continue ticking off more and more items on your list, remember to periodically take a step back and reassess the situation. Is your adjusted schedule resulting in better homework grades? Is therapy allowing your mind to focus on the class material better?

If you’re seeing positive results from the steps you’re taking, great! Continue doing what you’re doing and check in with yourself in a few days. However, if you’re still not quite grasping the concepts you need to understand in order to do well, or if you still seem to have a tough time keeping up with your classwork, this is the time to revisit your solutions and figure out why they aren’t working like you expected them to.

It’s important to start taking steps to get the situation back under your control as soon as you realize that your grades are slipping. As you go through these steps, remember to be realistic and not be too hard on yourself — everyone has difficulty at some point in their college career. The important thing is that you are recognizing it and coming up with a plan to deal with the situation.

Are you starting to notice that your grades aren't as high as they should be? Take these 4 steps to start fixing the situation TODAY!

Health Other

How To Deal With Multiple Exams In The Same Week

September 29, 2016

For most, the semester is now in full swing. You’ve likely already gotten a good feel for the type of work your current professors expect of you, and you’ve probably already gotten into some sort of groove with your daily routine.

But what happens when midterms come along and you suddenly find yourself with 3 exams within days of each other? How do you retain and recall all of the specific information for each course with so much going on?

Figure out your Exam Schedule

It can often be helpful to write down all of your deadlines and exam dates in one place, so you can start to prioritize. While it’s no fun looking at everything laid out all at once and realizing just how much work you have ahead of you, it’s an essential step to making sure you do well in each course.

Prioritize your Studying

Now that you know what’s going to happen and when, figure out the best order in which to tackle your studying. For example, if you have 2 exams on Tuesday and one on Thursday, it’s ok to devote most of your studying time to the first 2. That said, don’t make the mistake of leaving all of your studying for the 3rd exam until the day or 2 before. Start digesting that exam’s content at least a week prior, but in smaller chunks. This way, when you’re done with #1 and #2, you’ll already have been laying the groundwork for a successful exam #3 before you even begin the heavy-duty studying for it.

Create a Study Schedule

Since you know which materials you need to tackle first, block off some times in the week(s) leading up to the actual exams and dedicate them solely to studying. There’s so much going on in college, it’s easy to just push things off until a little bit later. By committing some of your time in advance, you’ll have made plans around your studying and won’t have to waste energy trying to figure out when you can fit it into your busy schedule last minute.

Remember your Study Breaks!

Of course, you may feel like taking breaks is the last thing you have time for right now. However, your brain needs time to recharge and process all of the information you are internalizing. This is a great time to implement the Pomodoro Technique. (You can use if you don’t own a physical timer!)

Carve Out Time for Rest

Once the exams start, make sure to plan your schedule in a way that allows you to get a full night’s sleep so you’re well-rested and not distracted. This may mean one or two less social events, but odds are that your friends are likely dealing with the same situation and might even appreciate you politely declining plans for those few days once they realize they need the study time and rest as well.


Having multiple exams in the same week can be tough - here are some tips to help you manage it!

Other Student Life

7 Free Apps To Simplify College Life

August 31, 2016

College life involves a huge amount of responsibility. You now have to depend on yourself to stay on track and manage time and money effectively. Luckily, we’re living in an age where you can access almost anything, anywhere. If you invest a few minutes now to download some helpful apps and organize yourself, your sanity will thank you later.

Here are a 7 of our favorite apps to help simplify your life in college:


Brainscape  |  SiteiOS App

You’ll need to do a lot of studying in college and a good amount of that studying will likely involve committing information to memory. Create digital flashcards with Brainscape to help you with that! Becuase it’s an app, you’ll be able to keep your flashcards with you wherever you are. Kill time on long bus rides or while you’re waiting for your friends by making good use of it and boosting your productivity!


Todoist  |  SiteiOS AppAndroid App

So much going on at school! If you don’t already have an established way to keep track of all of the things you need to do, consider Todoist. It has a simple interface and will allow you to quickly log whatever task needs doing at a later time. This way, when you’re trying to figure out whether you forgot to complete anything before the start of a new week, you’ll have a single place to reference and keep yourself on track.


MyScript Smartnote  |  SiteiOS App – Android App

Some people are better note takers when they write, rather than when they type. If this sounds like you, it may be a good idea to download an iPad app for that exact purpose. You’ll get all of the benefits of having digitized notes, along with a note-taking style that feels more natural to you.


Evernote  |  SiteiOS AppAndroid App

Even if you prefer taking notes by hand, don’t disregard Evernote. If you ever need to keep a lot of information on hand, and would like for that information to be easily searchable, look no further. You can keep various people’s contact info, your schedule, copy/pasted tidbits from your online research, even photos of the handwritten notes you took, all in one central location that has been made easily accessible from almost anywhere.


Chegg  |  Site – iOS AppAndroid App

Taking a lot of Gen Ed requirements this semester? Why permanently store and spend hundreds on textbooks that don’t relate to your major, when you can rent those same textbooks for a fraction of the price? You can then put that extra money toward better athletic gear or more fun activities around campus! Already bought your textbooks?  You can sell them back to Chegg at the end of the semester and get some of that money back.


Venmo  |  SiteiOS AppAndroid App

Chances are, as you continue to spend time with your friends, there will be times when you have to spot one another. Because college students are on a tight budget, it’s important to be able to pay back and be paid back in these situations. Venmo is a pretty widely-used app just for this purpose. Because it’s so popular, it’s one of the more reliable digital methods of exchanging money. Plus, at the end of a semester, you’ll be able to look back on your transactions and see where that money went… something that isn’t as easy to do with cash.


Mint  |  SiteiOS AppAndroid App

So, you and your friends are all set, making sure nobody owes each other money. Now it’s time to track your overall budget. Mint is a great service that you can connect to your bank accounts to keep track of where your funds go every month. Though you likely already have a pretty good idea of your overall spending picture, with Mint, you may start to pick up on some patterns that had previously gone unnoticed.



Protect your sanity and stay organized with free apps for college students!

Career Other

Using a Course Syllabus to Prepare for the Semester

August 29, 2016

At the beginning of each semester, college students receive mountains of paperwork and documents to make sense of. This can include schedules, handbooks, forms, and today’s topic: the course syllabus. While you may be tempted to file away the syllabus along with all of your other papers, thinking “I’ll look at it later if I need to,” try using it to set yourself up for success instead.

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Other Student Life

9 Tips to Start a Successful New Semester

August 25, 2016
Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Semester Off Right

It’s that time of year! Whether you’re a returning student just starting to get back into the swing of dealing with a structured schedule, or an incoming freshman trying to start your college experience off on the right foot, it’s important to take steps to set yourself up for success this semester.

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Surveys Show 1/3 of Freshmen Don't Become Sophomores at the Colleges They Started At

October 4, 2010

It was great news to read a new column by USA Today’s Kim Painter.    She is writing a new series of advice and insights columns for the USA Today.   Last week she compiled some good insights in a second article that focused on issues near and dear to all parents – student success.

You can read the entire article here or see some highlights regarding the persistence of college students are particularly alarming below. There are many reasons why students do not return to college, but some of those highlighted below are risks that can be insured against through GradGuard’s tuition refund insurance.

Tuition insurance does not provide a refund to students who voluntarily withdrawal from college or just drop out.  Tuition insurance is not drop out insurance, but it does provide a reasonable way for families to protect the investment they are making in not just tuition, but room, board, academic fees and even travel to campus.   Not all tuition insurance is as comprehensive as GradGuard’s but we recommend that each parent not only consider what will help there student succeed, but also insure against the unexpected case of mono, injury, disability through purchasing GradGuard’s tuition refund insurance.


“By Kim Painter, USA TODAY – A couple million sets of U.S. parents just realized a dream: They sent sons and daughters off to colleges. Most immediately set their sights on a new dream: attending graduation ceremonies at those colleges. But right about now, some are getting the first clues that might not happen.

A few know it won’t — because their kids have already dropped out. “I had a student leave the first week,” says Marcus Hotaling, a psychologist who directs the counseling center at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. FRESHMEN YEAR: May be harder on parents than students THE TURKEY DROP: Some want to call college quits by Thanksgiving.

…..”It does happen,” says Marjorie Savage, parent program director at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. In fact, surveys by ACT (the non-profit company behind the ACT test) show one-third of freshman do not become sophomores at the colleges where they started. ACT doesn’t track how many students drop out in less than a year, transfer to another school or return later. But just under half get degrees from the colleges where they first enrolled (within three years for associate degrees or five years for bachelor’s degrees). “The numbers are dreadful, and the freshman year is key,” says James Boyle, president of College Parents of America in Arlington, Va.

That might strike panic into parents already getting distress signals:

Also at high risk: students who came to school with a disability or a mental illness such as depression. Hotaling recalls one bright young man with a form of autism who came 3,000 miles and “didn’t last the semester because he couldn’t handle the social aspects.” And sometimes leaving is the right thing, he says. But, often, parents can help students stay put, without jumping in and taking over. “Stay in touch and provide coaching,” Boyle says. Remind students that academic advisers, counselors and others are there to help, he says. Encourage students to get involved in campus clubs, teams and activities, Savage says. “Typically, if you give them a few weeks, they are going to adjust,” Hotaling says. But, he adds, if you are concerned about safety — and, especially, suicide — don’t hesitate to call the campus counseling center and ask for help. ”


Thanks again for the keen insights by USA Today’s Kim Painter.   Kim is worth book-marking and reviewing her commentary again in the near future.   At some point, it may even warrant returning to the ACHA study that GradGuard has quoted before that illustrate the high probability of unexpected incidents that can interfere with a students college education.     Until then, thank you for helping make the case for why tuition insurance is a prudent investment for nearly all college families.


Child in College? The Importance of Health Care Power of Attorney

September 24, 2010

This is a great article from a blog post in the Boston Globe – see the entire article here or read below for a summary.

“If you have recently sent a son or daughter off to college, it is critically important that you have a signed Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) in place. This document is important because once your child turns 18, they are legally recognized as an adult and the colleges they are attending generally cannot share medical information with you.

It is not that the colleges don’t want to share information, but under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a patient’s health information must be kept private once the patient is recognized as an adult. And this privacy extends to the parents of the student. So, if your child becomes ill at school, you might not be able to get any information on their health status.

GradGuard suggests that parents aim to have a HCPOA in place before school starts.    You can finds these forms through your attorney or thru websites such as LegalZoom. The Health Care Power of Attorney form is important, but so are the other risks facing your student.    In the case where you may need the HCPOA, you may also find yourself needing emergency medical evacuation insurance or be in at risk for losing the investment in that semesters education expenses.    GradGuard offers an affordable solution thru its Student Protection Plan, which includes not only tuition insurance but also emergency medical evacuation insurance.   Just like the HCPOA, the Student Protection Plan is something that every student and family will benefit from.


Dealing with Claims – Understanding the Limits of Homeowner’s Insurance

September 20, 2010

This months Claim’s Magazine, the insurance industries news magazine on insurance claims, wrote a useful article on the limitations of homeowners insurance and the potential value of renters insurance to college students.    The entire article can be found here or for highlights read the summary below.

“It’s September, traditionally the time of year when teachers and students head back to school, if they have not done so already. Those of a certain age can remember when going back to school did not occur until after Labor Day, but I digress. What has not changed is the fact that as older students return to school, they are taking possessions and vehicles to colleges and universities some distance from home. This raises questions about insurance coverage and the property they have taken with them: Is it covered? How should it be covered? When does coverage end?

Full-Time Concerns

Before we get into the property itself, we first must be sure the student still qualifies as an insured, since this criterion has changed over time. In the 1991 ISO homeowners’ form, an insured was a resident relative of the insured or someone under the age of 21 and in the care of a resident relative. No special criteria existed for students away at school, which led to confusion. While the student would be away for months at a time, her home was with mom and dad, and most of her property was still at this residence. The student was at school only for the semester.

Partly because of this confusion, the 2000 homeowners’ form was changed to specifically address the issue of students away at school. The 2000 policy states that a student enrolled in school full-time, as defined by the school, and who was a resident of the household before attending school, is under 24 years of age, and a relative is still an insured. This language makes it clear that students with property away at school are still insureds under their parents’ policies.

Note the statement that the student must be attending school full-time as defined by the school. In the past, some carriers developed their own underwriting guidelines that allowed coverage for students away at school full time, but the definition of “full time” was always a concern. Who was to define full time, and what was entailed in that definition? Using the school’s definition of a “full-time student” makes it clear and easy for all concerned, and removes any guesswork.

Another important item to note is that the school does not have to be accredited in any way. If the person is a student at Master Sahib’s School of Levitation and Snake Charming and the school considers the student to be full time, then the student is considered an insured.

Other Coverage Issues

Now the student is happily ensconced in the dorm with a lava light, laptop, microwave, and other essentials necessary to college life. If the student’s property is stolen, say the lava light and microwave, is there coverage for the stolen property? The policy states that property owned or used by an insured is covered while anywhere in the world. Since we have established that the student is still an insured, there is coverage for the precious lava light and microwave.

Many students take not just personal property, but vehicles with them to college. Most parents do not think anything of it since they are probably paying for the vehicle and insurance the way they had been. The only difference is that the vehicle is located elsewhere.

That is an important difference and is an important underwriting issue. Where the vehicle is garaged can greatly affect the policy premium. The vehicle may be out of state from September through May, which is most of the year. The student could well be attending college in an area that is rated higher or lower than the home territory. A family in New York City will certainly get better rates when the vehicle is garaged in Ohio for most of the year. With the cost of tuition and books, a break on premium is a welcome bonus to parents. Naturally, the converse is true if a student goes from an area where insurance is less expensive to one where coverage is more expensive.

Another issue with vehicles away at school is permissive use. The liability section of the auto policy provides coverage for any person using your covered auto. The policy therefore provides coverage when the student allows his roommate or another friend to drive the vehicle.

Coverage can become an issue when the student is rather free with whom he allows to use the vehicle, and a friend of the student gives the keys to the vehicle to a friend of his and that friend wrecks the car. Did the driver have reasonable belief to believe that he had permission to use the vehicle? This is where it gets sticky.

Unfortunately there are no easy answers to this predicament; it depends on the situation at hand, how often the first friend was allowed to drive the vehicle, and whether he reasonably believed that he could grant permission to drive the vehicle to others.

Going away to college is an exciting time for most students, and a time of letting go and some worry for parents. While not all problems can be avoided, if the parents and students are aware of potential coverage issues beforehand, it can help to prevent complicated loss situations in the future.

GradGuard offers renters insurance designed for college students and their families through this site or also through College Renters Insurance. Both provide products that help close the gap and to provide a sound alternative for college families looking to mitigate the potential property loss that results on campus.