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Helping Students Transition into a Remote Learning Environment

June 26, 2020

For most of us, life today looks almost nothing like it looked just a few short months ago. The world’s major cities are virtual ghost towns. Schools and businesses worldwide are shuttered. Airports are mostly empty, as are our highways and interstates.

And “the college experience” meant something very different in the Spring of 2020 than it used to. If you’re an educator or administrator used to working with students in a traditional on-ground environment, chances are you’re going through quite an adjustment crisis yourself.

But now, more than ever, your students need you. And supporting them through this transition into the remote learning environment is going to mean more than finding new ways to teach your standard content. It’s also going to mean providing your students with the emotional support and practical advice they need to accommodate this new normal.

First Things First

The shelter-in-place orders that have been instituted virtually nationwide have meant that many colleges and universities have closed their dorms with very little advance notice. And, unfortunately, not every student is going to have parents, relatives, or friends to crash with until this crisis passes.

Supporting your students means helping to ensure they have their most essential needs met first before you start worrying about getting back to your curriculum. You may need to help students locate resources in their community to help with basic needs like housing and food. 

You can also advise them on strategies they can use to quickly secure safe and affordable housing on their own. Students might consider renting out a bedroom or motel room, or converting a shed or RV into their new, if temporary, digs.  

Tricking Out the Tech

Once students have safe and affordable shelter to ride out the pandemic, then they can start worrying about getting themselves set for online learning. Again, though, this could be a challenge for some students, particularly those who may have been relying on on-campus resources for their tech needs.

Fortunately, most communities, even in rural areas, now have access to at least 4G LTE network speeds. That means that students should be able to get fast, secure, and reliable access from their smartphones or tablets. 

Best of all, a host of productivity tools are available for download on Android and iPhone at low or no cost, including Google Docs and Microsoft Office. To be sure, “attending” online classes and doing homework on your smartphone isn’t exactly ideal, but it’s doable. And if this pandemic is teaching us anything, it’s how to make do.

Building a Virtual Community

And when it comes to making do, teachers have always been pros. Now is no different. You probably never could have imagined that you’d be ending the semester and potentially teaching a new one in front of a computer screen rather than standing before a sea of bright young faces, eager for summer break.

But here you are, and while teaching online is not the same as teaching on the ground, there are a few important similarities. The first, and most important, is the need to turn your class into a community. In fact, that particular need is more important than ever, as your students grapple with the fears, uncertainties, and, yes, the loneliness of lockdown. Fortunately, for many of you, the semester was well underway when the pandemic hit, meaning that you and your class had already had time to build strong relationships. 

Now is the time to affirm and strengthen those bonds, to provide a sense of continuity for your students, even as you transition to online learning. Continue to model the empathy, compassion, and humanity you have shown all semester, even though you must now do it from a distance. Your students need that now more than ever.

When you’re teaching online, it’s imperative that you model the same passion and the same level of presence that you exhibited on-ground. Try to be active and “visible” every weekday in your online classroom, from posting announcements to actively and frequently contributing to discussion forums. 

Be as positive and encouraging in your public communications as possible. Remember, also, that your students don’t have the benefit of your body language or tone of voice, so soften your written communications and use mild humor, if any. Provide emojis (used judiciously) to temper what may be read as a harsh or critical message, and be as clear and specific as possible in your instructions and class requirements. 

Not only will all this help your students succeed in the class, but it will also help them feel more confident and more engaged in the work. And it can provide a sense of normalcy and accomplishment in these troubled times.   

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

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June 28 is National Insurance Awareness Day

June 25, 2020
National Insurance Awareness Day is June 28

Insurance is often one of those things we forget about until we need it. 

Here’s something that can help you keep insurance top of mind: June 28 is National Insurance Awareness Day.

The annual day gives you the opportunity to check your insurance policies and make sure everything is up-to-date. While that probably doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing to do, your future self will thank you if and when you’re ever in a tough situation and find yourself relying on that insurance coverage. 

Insurance policies exist to protect you from the unexpected, whether it’s a natural disaster, theft, damage, illness, injury or death. 

Some of the common types of insurance:

It’s one thing to know if you have insurance, and it’s another to know what the policy covers, and how exactly you go about filing a claim. Make sure you know what questions to ask!

What does this policy cover?

This is SUPER important to ask and have an understanding of. For example, if you want to have renters insurance in case someone breaks in and ransacks your apartment, just be sure that theft and burglary is a covered peril under the policy you are wanting.

How long does this policy last?

This depends on the company that you are purchasing through and what you opted to pay for the policy. If you paid annually, then the policy likely lasts for a full 12 months from the date that you chose your coverage to begin. If you are only needing the insurance for a certain amount of time, be sure to ask your agent about their cancelation process and what is required to terminate the coverage.

How much is the policy?

See if your insurance agency is charging you monthly, annually, semi-annually, or another billing option. Talk through it with them to see if there is a benefit to one billing option as opposed to another.

How do I know what my coverage limits should be?

For renters insurance, most policies come with both personal property coverage and personal liability coverage. Personal property coverage is the limit that protects your personal items that are inside of your residence, and personal liability coverage is what protects the actual structure itself. Be sure to talk to your university or rental property to see if they require any specific limits while you are living there.

How do I file a claim and how does that process work?

This is a general question with an important answer. Most people have no idea how to make an insurance claim if needed and it should be one of the top questions to ask your renters insurance agent. The claims process can be different for each agency, so just to be sure you clarify it if needed

Takeaways: 

National Insurance Awareness Day only comes once a year. So on June 28, use the day as a reminder to get a little more educated on insurance and your individual policies that you have or are interested in buying. This is especially important in college when you’re living on your own and away from home. And remember, when it comes to purchasing any sort of insurance policy, it’s very important to ask questions! At GradGuard, we’re here to help you when you have questions about your renters or tuition policies.

“Adulting” isn’t easy, and we’re here to help in any way that we can!

Adulting Other

5 Major Spending Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

June 5, 2020

As a college student, socialization can come with the unfortunate downside of being fairly expensive. Going to bars and clubs, shopping for an outfit for a night out, or even just ordering food with friends can all be costs that add up quickly.

In order to save more money on a tight budget, read on for common spending mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

Not Planning

Planning ahead is one of the best ways to avoid overspending. By having a set idea of what you need ahead of time, you are placing a limit on what you can and cannot buy. This can be beneficial, as it helps you set your mind on what exactly you need to avoid distractions. As a smart shopper, take the time to create a shopping list and a strict budget that’s associated with it.

Taking on Fees

Many spending sprees can be bogged down by hidden transactional fees. Credit cards often have excessive interest rates associated with them if not paid off in time. Similarly, paying directly from your bank account puts you at risk for paying overdraft fees if you aren’t keeping a close eye on your spending.

One way to avoid this is to pay in cash, which also helps prevent overspending. If you’re someone more inclined to pay with a credit card, make sure you are aware of all the fees associated with the card you’re using. Similarly, if you’re in favor of using a debit card, find an account that has overdraft alternatives in order to avoid even more additional costs. Ultimately, this can keep you from taking on unnecessary fees if you do happen to spend more than what’s in your bank account.

Making Extra Purchases

Even with a budget and shopping list in place, there’s still a chance you might overspend on things that you don’t necessarily need. When shopping, it’s important to avoid impulse purchases and only focus on the list of items you’re planning to buy. Always stick to the plan you came in with, and if possible, avoid spending too much time looking at the smaller items available in the checkout aisle of many stores, which are designed to grab your attention, but probably aren’t the best for your budget. 

Not Finding Alternatives

The shopping world is forever changing, due to sites like Amazon, along with other websites that offer coupon and discount codes for a variety of internet stores. There is an abundance of money-saving alternatives available for the savvy shopper. Therefore, it’s important to take your time when shopping, both online and offline. After all, the first item you find may be convenient, but also might not be the most cost-effective to buy. Spending extra time looking for alternatives could be what saves you more money than expected.

Indecisiveness

On the flip side of this, taking too much time to shop can hinder your ability to save money. This is because most discounts are offered for a limited time only. While there is value in taking time to shop around and find deals, it shouldn’t be done in excess. Instead, pick a few items, compare their prices and the coupons available, and go with the most cost-effective option.

Before your next shopping trip or spending spree, make sure to plan ahead, and be ready to look for deals that will help you save money and avoid some common spending mistakes!

Adulting Other

Packing Tips for College Move Out Day

May 27, 2020
Packing Tips for College

How bittersweet this time of year is – summer is approaching, meaning no more classes or exams or deadlines, but you have to say goodbye to your friends, professors, clubs and parties. Although this can be a fun time to get distracted and get ready for the warm weather and summer fun again, it’s also a time to make sure you’re prepared to be on time for your flight or ride when moving out of your dorm or apartment.

Between finals, nice weather and saying goodbye to friends, it can be difficult to get everything packed in an organized and timely manner. However, it helps to do a little bit over time, so the whole task never seems too overwhelming. What do you need to do before you leave? Where should you begin? Check out this list!

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5 Sneaky Things That Could Be Draining Your Bank Account

October 10, 2018

As college students, most of whom aren’t independently wealthy, the last thing we need are useless things draining our funds. But you might be surprised at the things that you don’t really need to be paying money for! Here we break down five things that could be draining your bank account.

1. ATM fees. You probably know that if you use an ATM that your bank doesn’t own to get cash out of your account, you could be incurring fees of up to $3 a pop. While that may not seem like much, it adds up after a while, especially when tacked onto the money you’re already withdrawing. For some of us, however, it may not be much of a choice if there isn’t a branch of our bank near campus. An easy fix for this problem is to simply ask for cash back when purchasing something at any store. That way you can leave any unnecessary fees behind you!

2. Bottled water. We know what you’re thinking – water?! How could that be an unnecessary cost, I need it to live! But think about it: you’re paying upwards of $2 or $3 several times a week for something that ought to be free! Even if the taps in your dorm or apartment aren’t exactly drinking friendly, it’s more than likely that there are several drinking fountains on your school’s campus where you could fill up a reusable water bottle (you probably have one from your school that they gave you for free at some point – I have at least four!) and have a thirst quenching beverage for next to nothing. Plus, it’s more eco-friendly!

3. Your daily coffee/energy drink habit. I know, I know, you can’t function without your caffeine. But have you ever done the math on how much that little habit is costing you per month? What about per year? And we won’t even get into how bad it is for your health! Assuming that each drink is around $4, by cutting your consumption from five times a week down to three, you could be saving nearly $40 a month. That’s almost $500 per year! Let that one sink in for a moment.

4. Vending machines. A lot of these money drains seem to revolve around food and drink! If you go down to the vending machine or run to the gas station or convenience store every time you’re hungry, you’re going to end up way overpaying. Instead, you should go to the local grocery store or supermarket and buy multiple serving snacks, in bulk size. That way you’re getting a better deal per serving and paying less money less often (plus you’re more apt to buy healthier snacks).

5. Parking meters. Yes, sometimes these are necessary evils, but when you do the math, in the long run, it might make more sense (or cents?) to purchase a parking pass for your school. While it may seem like a large expense at one time, breaking it down will reveal that it’s more cost efficient to just spend the money upfront, instead of pumping in gallons of quarters each day.

 

Be sure to check out GradGuard for all of your life and college hacks!

Adulting Other

Living Off-Campus: 5 Solutions to Daily Struggles

October 1, 2018
Living Off-Campus: 5 Solutions to Daily Struggles

What’s the most exciting thing about going to college? Yes; it’s about learning, friendships, and parties. But most of all, it’s about independence. If this is your first time living away from your family, it will be an entirely new experience. Your responsibility will be put to the test.

So let’s talk about living on campus, shall we? It’s not always the most attractive option you have. Sure; it’s usually more affordable than an apartment, but it doesn’t always give you the level of independence you’re looking for. There are too many people, too many roommates, and too much noise all the time.

If you want to be truly independent, you’re probably considering living off-campus. That’s a great decision, but it’s also a bit challenging. You’ll face daily struggles related to finances, commuting, and adulting.

You’ll Have to Learn How to Manage Your Finances

When you’re off campus, your expenses are not put together in a single big payment. The fixed expense is limited to the rent. You have control over everything else. You can control the electricity you spend, the money you spend on groceries, the internet service provider, and everything else.

You have to know where your money is going all the time. A budget management app on your phone will help a lot! It will keep track of the expenses, letting you know exactly how much money you have at your disposal.

Remember to Manage Your Time

When you’re in your comfy bed and you think about a 30-minute commute in -15 degree weather, the idea of skipping class will come naturally. Resist that temptation! You have a schedule and you have to keep on track with it. Otherwise, you’ll start procrastinating and you’ll eventually delay your own graduation.

Sarah Cooper, a contributor of A-Writer, explains that time management is the biggest issue for students living independently: “When you’re in full control over the way you live, you’ll naturally strive for comfort. That leads to skipping classes, delaying the work on an important project, and wasting time in every other way possible. These students have to learn how to use their calendar. I’m serious!”

Your Roommate is the Closest Friend You’ve Got

Having a roommate is great! Not only because you’ll split the expenses, but also because you’ll always have a friend to count on. However, when two young people are in a room together, you can’t expect rainbows, unicorns, and happiness all the time. There will be dirty clothes on the floor, there will be noise when you want to rest, and other struggles you’ll have to learn how to deal with.

Honesty is the best way to ensure a successful friendship. When you’re bothered with something your roommate does, tell them in the nicest way possible. “Could you pick up the clothes from the floor? I can help if you need me to!” That’s a nice way to resolve a conflict, don’t you think?

You’ll Need to Learn How to Cook; It’s Fun!

When you live in an apartment, you’re responsible for your own food. You can eat whatever you want, as long as you learn how to cook. Start watching YouTube videos of chefs preparing easy meals and be sure to practice; you’ll get into cooking in no time.

Why is it important to learn how to cook? – Because grocery shopping is way more affordable than eating out. Plus, the food you cook yourself will be healthier.

How about Getting Your Own Wheels?

Commuting is the main struggle for students who choose to live away from campus. To say that public transport is not enjoyable is an understatement.

  • How about getting an old car? It will not only get you wherever you want to go, but it will also be the place where you keep all your books, snacks, and backup clothes while you attend classes.
  • If the car’s maintenance is too expensive for you, how about a scooter?
  • If your place is not too far from campus and the road is safe for bikes, that’s a huge bonus. A bike is the most affordable option you have and it helps keep you fit.

Yes, there will be challenges, but don’t let them discourage you. You’ll have a great experience living off-campus; you just have to learn how to manage your time and finances, find an easy way to commute to campus, learn how to cook, and become friends with your roommate. You can do that, right? 

And don’t forget that living off-campus means that renters insurance is a must and GradGuard has your back! Remember to visit our website for all of your insurance needs.                                                                                                                                                                            

Audrey Pilcher is a passionate blogger and freelance writer at  college-paper.org. Being engaged in numerous international internships during studies, she gained invaluable experience. Since then Audrey was willing to share it with others.  Therefore she became an article writer on studying, self-growth issues.

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WSJ – Tuition Insurance Catches On as Costs Rise, Students Struggle to Adjust

August 19, 2018

Appeared in the August 20, 2018, print edition as ‘Demand for Tuition Insurance Is Surging.’

‘The cost of college is driving this,’ ‘

Families cannot afford the loss of $30,000, John Fees – Co-Founder of GradGuard.

As college tuition rises so too has demand for insurance to cover what in many cases is among a family’s biggest investments.

For Mindy DiCostra, a tuition-insurance policy was a life-saver last year after her daughter withdrew mid-semester in her junior year at Marymount Manhattan College in New York following an allergic reaction to an anxiety medication.

Because Ms. DiCostra agreed to pay $238 for tuition insurance when doing paperwork for the school, she was eligible to receive a full reimbursement for the $16,000 in tuition she and her husband had paid for the semester.

“I had no idea how important it would be when I checked that box,” she said.

Tuition insurance protects families in case their son or daughter has to drop out of school past the point at which a school offers tuition reimbursement, usually around halfway through the semester. Driving the increased demand are higher college costs and, to a lesser extent, rising mental-health disorders among college students that have raised concerns among parents that their children may struggle away from home.

About 70,000 policies were written across the U.S. market last year, up from 20,000 five years ago, said John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, which started selling tuition-reimbursement insurance seven years ago. It works with campuses including the University of Pennsylvania, Auburn University and New York University, its website says.

“The cost of college is driving this,” said Mr. Fees. “Families cannot afford the loss of $30,000.”

The average published tuition and fees at a private college has increased to $34,740 in 2017 from $15,160 in 1988 according to the College Board. The numbers are adjusted for inflation.

“I think a lot of families don’t fully grasp that if they have to withdraw midterm it can have a significant financial impact,” said Paige Lee Director of Tuition Insurance at Allianz. College is “the second largest investment most families will ever make” after a home.

Most schools have some sort of reimbursement policy but they generally don’t cover withdrawals during the second half of the semester. At Vanderbilt University, a student will be reimbursed for some portion of his or her tuition and room and board up until about halfway through the semester. After that, they don’t receive anything.

Tuition and housing at Vanderbilt costs about $59,000, and 80% of that can be reimbursed with insurance, which costs about $530, said Chris Cook, who oversees the financial accounts of students at the school.

Several companies provide tuition insurance, Most policies charge in the neighborhood of 1% of the cost of school. A semester that runs $30,000 would cost about $300. At least 200 schools now work with insurers, offering the coverage to families when the pay the tuition bill.

Liberty Mutual Insurance started offering tuition-reimbursement policies this year, in part because of consumer demand. When a student drops out mid-semester parents are often “very surprised to learn that you may not get anything back,” said Michele Chevalier, a senior director at Liberty Mutual.

Not everyone thinks the plans are necessary. Jodi Okun, a college financial adviser in Los Angeles, said she has so far steered her clients away from tuition insurance because she doesn’t feel it is necessary in most cases. However, she has but counseled them to be aware of the timeline for withdrawals, so if a student is struggling with a mental-health issue they can leave in time to recoup the cost.

“I tell them, make sure you know when the deadlines are, especially if they are going far away to school,” she said.

Plans don’t typically cover students who drop out for academic or disciplinary reasons but will for medical reasons. Generally, insurers don’t ask about pre-existing conditions, either mental or physical. The idea, GradGuard’s Mr. Fees said, is: “If a student is healthy enough to start to a semester, they qualify.”

Insurers say that the number of claims they receive citing mental health incidents has risen. As many as one in four students at some elite U.S. colleges are now classified as disabled, largely because of mental-health issues such as depression or anxiety, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and interviews with schools.

Carmen Duarte, a spokesperson for A.W.G. Dewar, Inc. which has been offering tuition-reimbursement policies since the 1930s, said claims have remained flat for physical-health incidents but increased for mental-health reasons. She said policies are most likely to be bought by families of first year students. Allianz Insurance, which began selling the policies in 2015, said about 20% of claims were for mental health and 70% were for physical health.

Write to Douglas Belkin at doug.belkin@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications
Michele Chevalier is a senior director at Liberty Mutual. An earlier version of this article misspelled her first name. (Aug. 19)

 

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5 Items You Need For Your College Apartment

August 10, 2018

Congratulations, you survived the dorms! You’ll be surprised when you realize how attached you have become to the convenience of the dining hall, and the fact that your dorm was probably a quick walk away from all your classes. Sadly, all that is over and you’re going to need to cook now. And if you can’t figure out the best way to survive your lengthed commute to class, check out our comparison blog here. Now there are hundreds of articles on the web about all the junk that you can buy and use twice if you’re lucky. This post is designed to give you 5 items you will use on a weekly, if not daily basis.

Coffee Maker: Temptations are everywhere. Coffee shops surround your campus like moths to light. Everywhere you look, $7 cups of Joe are being sold, and if you don’t show restraint, you are going to blow your monthly food budget on one week of coffee. You can purchase a coffee maker off Amazon for fairly cheap, and the single cup coffee makers are a godsend for people who only drink one cup. Pro Tip: Keurig may have made this industry what it is, but you don’t have to pay their prices for the similar quality. Check out your local Target or home goods store for something off-brand, but still functional.

Basic Pots and Pans: You don’t need to go out and buy the $350 Gordon Ramsay collection, but you are going to need a few items. You may not know how to cook now, but over the course of the year, you will pick up at least a few recipes that you can make. Fry pan, saucepan, and baking sheet are the bare minimum. Pro Tip: Crock Pots can be extremely useful if you are committed to meal prep. Simply put the ingredients in, turn it on, and go to class. Come back, and you have dinner.

Vacuum Cleaner: At some point, you are going to have to clean up those crumbs from last week’s Hot Pocket. A vacuum may not be a fun purchase, but man, you will regret not buying one. A mop is a good idea too, but the vacuum is a necessity. Pro Tip: You don’t need to buy your parent’s PetMaster 3000, a small, lightweight model will do you just fine for your messy habits.

Basic Tools: For some of you this could be very foreign. “I will just call maintenance,” you say. Believe or not, they have better things to do than unscrew the shelf in your fridge so you can move it down a rung. Screwdriver (Phillips and Flathead), pliers, and a tape measure are all essentials for any living space. Pro Tip: You can find beginner kits all over the internet.

Dishes: Last, and most importantly, is basic dishware and cutlery. A few plates, bowls, and silverware will be in use at all times, so it is important you have some available. No matter how little you cook, at some point, you will need a spoon or a plate, and you can find sets of varying size and quality very easily. If you plan on doing any cooking whatsoever you will need a minimum 1 chefs knife and 1-2 steak knives. Pro Tip: A pair of kitchen scissors is very convenient, and chip clips are life savers.  

To wrap it up, there are a lot of things out there that will become a staple in your life, it will be different for everybody. But before you sink all your budget into money-grab products you saw on TV, consider how much you will actually use it. And don’t forget to cover your newly acquired items with the proper renter’s insurance through GradGuard! Would hate for all of those items to go to waste if you fill your apartment with smoke when you start to make your first Rachel Ray recipe. Get a free quote on our website today!

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Three Assumptions That Can Cost College Families

August 9, 2018

As nearly 3 million new college students and their families prepare to start college this year, now is an excellent time for parents and students to examine important financial issues that can impact the entire family. The cost of college is frequently among the largest investments a family and student make.

As a result, it is important to prepare for and reduce the potential and unintended costs surrounding college life.  A key place to start is to evaluate your assumptions about college life and explore alternatives for how you can protect your investment in a college education.

1. My child’s health insurance is covered by his school

Some schools offer health insurance, others do not. First, you should check to see if your student is covered by your family health insurance plan. Be sure to verify what the college’s coverage requirements are and be sure to check the bursar’s statement bill to see if you have been billed for health insurance.

If you have been billed for student health insurance by your college, but sure to let them know if you have coverage so you can “waive” the coverage. 

If you do not waive the coverage, your student will be billed for health insurance.

2. Campus housing will pay for my student’s damaged or stolen property

There are an average of 24,254 annual burglaries reported on college campuses and an average of 2,129 annual fires reported in on-campus student housing.   Parents are smart to review their home insurance policies closely for certain limitations. Most policies provide some coverage for students away at college (often up to 10% of the policy limits) but may limit that coverage to full time or on-campus students only. Additionally, filing small claims against a home policy may result in higher premiums or be subjected to high deductibles.

If you can’t afford to replace your student’s stolen or damaged property (like a backpack), then purchasing renters insurance for about fifty cents a day is a smart idea. 

GradGuard’s renter’s insurance is the only policy that includes an exclusive student endorsement that provides coverage designed for college life.

3. If my child gets sick or injured, the college will refund tuition and fees

Most colleges do not provide a complete refund to students who are forced to withdraw mid-term that is a result of a medical injury or illness. In fact, only 16% of schools surveyed in 2017 reported that they provide a refund for tuition.  All virtually all schools will not provide a refund for academic fees or room and board.  hough some schools may provide a partial refund for tuition up through the fifth week of school, nearly all schools do not refund the costs beyond tuition such as books and academic fees. As a result, tuition insurance is a smart alternative to protect your college investment from a potential loss.

If you can’t afford the cost of an extra semester, then tuition insurance is a smart idea.  Just remember that tuition insurance must be purchased prior to the first day of classes.

Remember that the best way to manage risks facing your student and the investment you are making in college is to be aware of where your student may be vulnerable.  Asking the right questions and considering how to protect yourself from an unexpected financial loss can help your student stay focused on their goal of college graduation.

Adulting Other

The 5 Dorm Items You Absolutely Need.

August 3, 2018

This is it. This is the day you move out. Your mom might not be ready to be an empty-nester, and let’s face facts, you might have never done your own laundry before. Maybe you’ve never moved before either. You’ve lived in the same house, in the same town, and went to the same barber all your life. Well, finding a new barber is likely going to be the least of your worries when starting this new chapter. Moving to college for the first time can be a bit scary, but we have 5 things you absolutely need to survive in the dorms this year (Results may vary).

Laundry Hamper: This is a MUST. Sorry to say but having clothes strewn about your room is not a “fun quirk.” Also, have you ever tried to carry an armload of clothes to and from the laundry room without dropping more socks than you knew you had? Pro Tip: The mesh folding hampers made a great space saver and are easy to deal with.

Bedding: Chances are, your dorm room employs an extra long twin and unless you have an older sibling who went to college, you do not have those sheets with the extra length. Be sure to get a few sets and alternate them. Pro Tip: In a pinch, use queen, and just let the slack hang down.

Storage Containers: Whether your taste is a trunk, totes, or folding cardboard boxes, you will need to store all your misc. items that you couldn’t bear to part with but have no actual use. They are also good for storing extra clothes or books. Pro Tip: Plastic 3 drawer containers are also great for storing books, documents, and ramen.

Headphones: This one is very important. PSA: Your roommate may or may not want to listen to what you are listening to 24/7. The headphones are also great when you roommate is talking to their mom for the third time that week about every minor tragedy that’s happened. As much as you love hearing about how the dressing on their kale salad was too sweet, sometimes you need a break. Also great when it is 2am and your roommate is asleep, but you NEED to watch that next episode on Netflix. Pro Tip: Noise-canceling headphones are recommended for maximum success.

Cleaning Supplies: You would be shocked at how many people are totally fine living in filth. A few crumbs on the carpet is acceptable. A little iron and lime buildup around your sink and shower are ok. But when your toilet starts to darken in tint and develops a ring around the toilet bowl, it’s time to clean up. You also need to clean your floor occasionally, and, sadly, the trash fairy is never coming; take it out instead of stacking everything to create the next great modern art piece. It won’t be so bad if you stay on top of it. Pro Tip: All-purpose cleaner will solve the majority of your cleaning problems, make sure you have a bottle (or three).

We hope this list makes packing for school a little easier! Along with these essential dorm room items, be sure that you have the essential renters insurance! GradGuard protects your items in and out of the dorm room. With the new year approaching be sure you are prepared and cover all of your bases. Let us know your dorm necessities in the comments below.