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Why College Students Need Renters Insurance

April 4, 2022

In back-to-school mode, you and your parents may be caught up in the whirlwind of college life you have found yourselves in. With so much new information and experiences happening all at once, you or your family members may not think about some things when you head off to college. One of the most important things to consider when settling into your new residence hall, apartment, or condo is renters insurance.

Why you may ask? As a student, you are potentially bringing thousands of dollars worth of possessions to school, from electronics to books to laptops and even furniture. If your laptop gets damaged or stolen, how would you replace it? What about your clothes if your dorm room floods? These items may not break the bank to replace individually, but the costs can definitely add up! Have you ever thought about what ALL of your stuff costs, together, all at once? It may surprise you! That is why it’s so important to take an inventory of what you bring with you to school. The data collected from the 2021 school year estimates that the total estimated cost of living per year for students, including food, housing, clothing, phone plan, and other things, is around $14,435, with an additional $2,316 on personal items.

The Break Down

Before you head off to school, it isn’t out of the ordinary to purchase many new things to go into your dorm room or apartment.

These dorm room items can include:

  • Bedding: Sheets, Pillows, blankets, duvets
  • Bath Items: Towels, robe, caddy, shower shoes
  • Decorations and other personal Items
  • Appliances: Microwave, TV, mini-fridge
  • Study Supplies: Calendars, planners, desk accessories
  • Storage: Drawers, baskets, bins, containers
  • Electronics: Gaming devices, iPads, speakers, streaming devices, cameras, computers, hard drives, headphones

These are just a few examples of what you can bring to campus, and when all added up, it can cost thousands of dollars. This doesn’t include your personal items such as clothes, bags, shoes, and other things you have collected over the years that are important to you. With such a wide range of prices on these items, leaving them unprotected should something unexpected happen isn’t worth the risk.

GradGuard: The Smart Choice

Colleges, universities, and off-campus property management companies don’t replace stolen bicycles or backpacks, but GradGuard College Renters Insurance can. Our coverage provides unique student-focused coverage through an exclusive student endorsement. That means you’ll have access to features that you can’t find in a standard homeowners insurance policy or other companies.

Here are a few examples of GradGuard’s student-focused features:

  • Low Deductible – Our standard deductible offer is only $100 when you file a claim, no matter the item.
  • No Credit Scoring – We took into account that you may not have a great credit score or even one at all as a student. No matter your credit history, everyone on-campus receives the same price.
  • Worldwide Property Coverage – Your belongings, including rented property, can be protected from covered perils anywhere in the world! If you are traveling home from school or studying abroad, GradGuard has got you covered.
  • Personal Liability Coverage – If you are hurt or unintentionally damage your place of residence, we may be able to help.

GradGuard College Renters Insurance was made with students in mind, unlike other renters insurance providers. If you file a claim, your rates won’t go up, and there are no sneaky sub-limits on electronics coverage. Our coverage protects physical items you bring to college (up to the policy limits) from things like theft, fire, smoke, vandalism, wind, sprinkler system discharges, and more.

You can also view a sample policy to learn about some more of the specifics of our coverage.

Other Considerations

Homeowners Insurance

If you are not the first person in your family to head off to college, you and your parents may think that you have everything under control. Your parents’ first instinct may often be to look into their current homeowner’s insurance. This is important to look at, but the coverage it can offer you as a student away at school may not be enough. Most of the time, a homeowner’s insurance policy will only extend to cover some of your possessions and may have a really high deductible.

A big downside of using this coverage is that making a claim on the homeowner’s policy may raise premiums. Homeowners’ policies often have limits, exclusions, and certain conditions that you can’t rely on to automatically cover you and your belongings while you’re at school. You may be better off just replacing that couple thousand dollar laptop out of pocket. Or even better, opting for GradGuard!

Landlord Protection

Many parents believe the landlord will cover damages when it comes to liability. More often than not, a landlord’s insurance only applies to the building itself, not the resident’s possessions within. Double-check with the landlord and ask what their insurance policy would cover should a theft or other disasters occur. Having your own insurance policy is a great way to ensure that the things you bring along with you to school are protected.

Another common myth is that renters insurance is too expensive and unnecessary. Even though it is an added expense, the benefits outweigh the costs should any disaster occur and your belongings suffer damages that could put you out thousands of dollars to replace on your own. Renters insurance is a great way to prevent significant financial loss and encourage students to start thinking responsibly about their belonging and move towards adulthood.

Other Safety

Spring Break Safety Tips

February 16, 2022

After a few months of studying and mid-terms are out of the way, it’s time to kick back and relax for a little something that we like to call spring break. Of course, when we think of spring break, we think of partying or big expensive oversees trips, but there are other options! Whether you’re traveling to somewhere tropical abroad, or have plans to stay in the United States, that’s one essential thing to keep in mind: Safety.

Essential Safety Tips

Keep Your ID on You

It isn’t unusual for students to travel while on spring vacation. Make sure you keep your driver’s license or state-issued identification card on you at all times when you are traveling. If you end up taking an international spring break trip, you’ll want to keep your passport tucked away and out of sight; an inner jacket pocket is a great spot for this. It’s a good idea to bring a paper copy of your passport and safely keep it at your hotel if the original gets lost.

Don’t Travel Alone

The buddy system is crucial when traveling in an unfamiliar place. Staying in a group is one of the simplest ways to avoid becoming a victim of a crime. It’s beneficial for preventing encounters with pickpockets or others who have bad intentions.

It doesn’t matter if you’re going out for a stroll on the beach or are heading to the club; make sure to travel with a friend!

Even if you think someone may be trustworthy, you should still be cautious when making new friends on your trip.

Be Careful with Money and Expensive Items

Traveling with expensive jewelry or handbags is unfortunately another easy way to become a target for crime. Be mindful of what you’re wearing or what electronics you bring with you on your trip. Flashy tourists are easy to spot, especially for thieves waiting to strike.

Try to only carry small amounts of cash on your trip, and don’t keep money out where a pickpocket can reach, like a back pocket or small purse. You will need to be mindful of where your debit card is when you are out to ensure that you don’t lose it, leading to identity theft or lots of expensive charges. Consider leaving the debit card at home and traveling with a credit card instead, since those have better fraud and theft protections in place.

If you really need to travel with a high-value item or a lot of cash, lock it in the trunk of the car during your trip or another place out of sight to keep it safe when your not using it.

Tips for Drinking Responsibly

If you have plans to drink alcohol over spring break, it’s important to know how to do so responsibly. Moderation is key.

Keep these tips in mind to stay safe while drinking:

  • Don’t have more than one drink in an hour. That is a 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz shot. Stick to having less than 2–4 drinks throughout the night. 
  • Eat before you drink and stay hydrated throughout the evening.
  • Stay away from binge drinking, which means consuming four or more drinks in two hours as it can lead to alcohol poisoning and even death.
  • The sun can intensify the effects of alcohol, be extra careful about how much you drink if you’re outside on a sunny day.
  • Be careful if you are in the ocean, a pool, or a hot tub while drinking; Hot tubs will dehydrate you quickly and make the effect of alcohol stronger. 

Finally, do not EVER leave your drink unattended. Unfortunately, date rape drugs are not uncommon among college party scenes — and they are tasteless and odorless. Don’t accept drinks from a stranger or drink out of punch bowls and open pitchers, which could contain extreme volumes of alcohol or spiked with dangerous drugs.

Practice Safe Driving

If you plan on taking a long road trip with friends, arrange to rotate drivers frequently, so everyone stays well-rested. Try to have someone in the passenger seat awake to keep the driver company. Falling asleep at the wheel can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.

Another idea you should consider is to have roadside assistance, whether it’s through a third party like AAA or your car’s warranty. Before setting out on your journey, ensure the vehicle has a spare tire, jack, and other tools needed to change a tire along with the appropriate oil levels and other fluids to function correctly. Hopefully, someone going on the trip knows how to change a tire!

Finally, this goes without saying: Don’t drink and drive. Do not allow your friends to drive if they have been drinking, and you should never get into a car with an impaired driver. There are plenty of ways to travel around and get back home, such as Uber or Lyft. 

Not traveling for Spring Break? No problem!

There are many alternatives to the traditional spring break beach party if you don’t feel like traveling. You can use this time to job shadow, do community service, visit national parks, or even take a staycation.

It can be easy to throw caution to the wind as a college student while on your break, but knowing steps to take to stay safe is important. Being safe doesn’t have to put a damper on your fun, but know that there is such a thing as too much fun, especially when involving drugs and alcohol. 

It might also be a good idea to consider getting travel insurance if you have invested a lot of money into your trip in case something happens. If you have GradGuard Renters Insurance, your belongings will also be safe if they get stolen while you are out of town with our worldwide property coverage!

Safe Travels and have FUN!

Other

Valentine’s Day: College Relationships

February 14, 2022

Happy Valentine’s Day! What will you be doing this year to celebrate? Maybe you’ve got a great date planned, a girls’ night, an intramural game, or a night of lots of studying for midterms. Whatever your plans are, there’s no wrong way to celebrate! Valentine’s Day is undeniably the most popular date night of the year, and whether you are single, in a relationship, or somewhere in-between, you’ll probably be thinking a bit about love today.

Although love is sweet, college can be an awkward time for relationships. We are still figuring out who we are, who we want to be, what we want to do, and where we want to go. There are many changes throughout college, even just from one semester to another. A hectic class schedule, raucous party scene, semesters abroad, and summers spent at home can put stress on stress college relationships. However, the inclusive community on campus, being surrounded by people who share your interests in your classes and clubs, and the freedom of independent living are all significant factors that help create lasting and fulfilling relationships.

Whether you are single or currently in a relationship, here are some facts and resources about college relationships:

Long Distance

When you left for college, you probably brought your favorite pillow and some new clothes, but had to leave your high school sweetheart behind. If your partner stayed at home or went to a different school, you’re not alone.

  • 75% of college students have a long-distance relationship at one point during their college career. Long-distance relationships are generally no worse off than relationships with nearby partners.
  • 37% of long-distance couples split up in the first 3 months compared to 21% of traditional relationships.
  • Although, if a long-distance couple lasts the first year, only 8% break up after the first year compared to 25% of conventional relationships.

If you can handle the separation, long-distance relationships can have some benefits, such as viewing each other more positively and being happier with the communication in the relationship. It may take a little bit of extra effort to maintain this relationship with your partner, but can easily be done these days through texting, FaceTime, and Zoom.

New Relationships

College is an exciting place to be for all sorts of reasons, and meeting new people is one of them. There are endless opportunities to expand your group and form new relationships, both personal and romantic. While many students are not looking for a serious relationship in school, there is actually a 28% chance of finding true love on campus, data shows. The most successful romantic relationships are formed with a strong foundation and excellent communication.

Dealing with Break Ups

Break-ups are common in the first year of college for many different reasons. Maybe your relationship from home fizzled out, or a new college relationship just didn’t end well. No matter the circumstances, break-ups can bring up negative emotions and cause you to feel less sure of who you are. But it may not be as bad as you think.

  • In fact, over 41% of college students view their break-ups as a positive experience or that a partner was holding them back.
  • According to a study, break-ups are most likely to happen on spring break, April Fool’s Day, summer break, two weeks before Christmas, Christmas Day, and, shockingly, Valentine’s Day.
  • To help you deal with a break-up, try writing down the positive aspects of the relationship and break-up experience. You can also rely on support from friends to avoid getting back together with a former partner who wasn’t allowing you to grow as a person.

If you feel a little lost after the end of a relationship, spend some time alone and focus on yourself rather than jumping right back into a relationship. Having a clear sense of who you are will lead to better relationships down the road.

Unhealthy Relationships

Dating violence is growing more prevalent and occurs in approximately 1 out of 3 college relationships. However, people in abusive relationships typically believe that the abuse in their relationship is normal and happens in most relationships. This is not the case. There are signs that you can try to steer clear of in a partner that may turn into abuse, such as:

  • High levels of dependency
  • Control issues
  • Alcohol abuse

32% of college students report dating violence by a previous partner, and 21% report violence by a current partner. If you or a friend experiences relationship abuse, seek help from resources on campus or a counseling center. The JED Foundation also offers resources on how to identify and report abuse. Remember, abuse is never your fault.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE (7233).

Bottom Line

Every relationship is much more than a statistic, and there are exceptions to every rule. If you’re spending this Valentine’s Day alone, you can still enjoy it! College is a great place to meet someone and is a fun and exciting place to be. If you are dealing with a break-up or post-break-up, remember life goes on, and part of life is learning from experiences, good or bad. As Carrie Bradshaw says, “After all, computers crash, people die, relationships fall apart. The best we can do is breathe and reboot.”

There are many resources on campus to go if the stress of love is taking its toll. Most schools offer counseling or support groups that are available should you need them; just reach out to your school’s student health center to learn more.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Adulting Other Transition

How to Manage Bills as a College Student

December 30, 2021

College can be a challenging time for students, but it doesn’t need to be stressful.

College students often struggle to manage their money and pay their bills on time as they move to this new chapter in their life. We are here to help you learn what you need to know about managing your finances as a college student.

Take Note of Every Expense

The first step in budgeting your money is to figure out what your monthly expenses will be.

You will have to pay for housing, utilities, phone service, internet access, and food while you are in college – it’s just the way things work! While different students have different living arrangements, most students will need to pay for these things. You may also need to consider the costs of transportation, textbooks, and other school supplies. Also, don’t forget the costs of any extracurricular activities or hobbies you want to pursue, like joining a club or participating in intramural sports.

From Netflix to the water bill, write down every single monthly expense you have. The more you know about how much all these things cost each month, the better prepared you can be for managing your money.

Begin with Your Fixed Costs

The first type of expense in factor into your budget are the ones that don’t change, or changes very little from month to month. This can include any bills you pay that are not negotiable (meaning the payment cannot be negotiated by a credit card, check, or cash, such as rent payments and car insurance premiums. These are important to remember and can serve as the foundation of your monthly budget.

List your Flexible Expenses

The next step is to determine your variable expenses – these are the monthly bills that change from month to month depending on how much you use. Common examples include utilities, groceries, transportation or gas, and even some cell phone plans. It can be very easy to go over budget with these types of expenses and is crucial that you pay attention to how much you are spending each month.

Plan on Unexpected Expenses

Life happens and you can’t always plan. One thing you should plan for is unexpected expenses, like car repairs or doctor visits. You can do this by setting aside a small amount each month (e.g., $20) in an emergency fund using your checking account. Another way to help the unexpected is to set aside money each month in to a savings account. This can be used for unexpected things you may need, or want, such as trips or a going out to eat that you did not account for in your budget.

Once you have paid all of your bills and set aside this monthly emergency fund, you have reached the end of your spending plan for each month. The amount left over in your checking account is yours to do with as you see fit!

What if money is too tight?

In some situations, budgeting may be difficult and you may not have enough money. If this is the case, it’s important to figure things out as soon as possible – don’t wait until your bills become overdue!

If you need more income to cover expenses, look into getting a job or increasing your hours at work. If you have to cut spending, start with the things that are not as important such as eating out or shopping.

However, attending college is often a full-time job in and of itself. On top of that, it’s important for you as a student to have a healthy amount of free time and disposable income for entertainment and leisure in order to manage the stress of college.

If you have your basic budget under control but need a little leeway for leisure and unexpected expenses, there are plenty of credit cards designed specifically for college students that will help take the pressure off. Just make sure to do your research and compare cards before signing on!

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of expenses you have as a college student. However, if you take an organized approach and write down each expense before it becomes due, managing your money should become much easier.

Author Bio

Colin Crown is a contributing writer and media specialist for Compare Credit. He is an avid foodie, marketing enthusiast and loves the city of Memphis.

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!

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.

Other Student Life

Supporting and Understanding Gender Identity in College

October 26, 2021

The college years are some of the most formative, character-building years in a young adult’s life. For many, college is the time they solidify their personal, ethical, religious, and political beliefs. For others, these years may be spent discovering their true sense of self in their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. A lot of learning is done in college and perhaps one of the most salient things someone may learn in college is how to understand, accept, and appreciate the differences of others.

A topic somewhat new to academia and popular culture alike is the concept of gender fluidity, and how to support and understand individuals who may identify and express their gender in ways that some would not consider traditional. According to Postsecondary National Policy Institute, 10% of college students identify as LGBTQ+. With the rise of this particular minority group on college campuses, it is essential that everyone educate themselves on how to be the best ally, friend, and classmate.

What is gender fluidity?

Before diving into why and how to support people who experience gender fluidity, let’s lay the groundwork for understanding all of the language involved in the discourse surrounding gender and gender expression.

  • Gender is how someone identifies and may correlate to the gender they were assigned at birth that aligns with their sex (male or female). If someone was born a female and identifies as a girl or woman, that person is cisgender, meaning their gender identity and expression aligns with their biological sex.
  • If someone identifies as a gender they were NOT assigned at birth, that person is transgender.
  • If someone is gender fluid, it means that they experience their gender on a spectrum, and may express more masculine, feminine, or androgynously in accordance with how they feel most comfortable. Many gender-fluid people do not identify as transgender, some choosing to align themselves with no gender at all, all of the genders, or no label.

Regardless of how a college peer chooses to identify, it is their choice and their choice alone.

How does a gender-fluid individual present himself/herself?

So, how does someone experiencing gender-fluidity present himself/herself, and what is life like for them? While this varies from person to person, many gender-fluid individuals will choose pronouns and clothing that conform to their gender presentation, perhaps using masculine pronouns such as he/him/his and choosing traditionally masculine clothing some days, and more feminine clothing and pronouns such as she/her/hers on other days. Other fluid individuals prefer they/them pronouns or other neopronouns that are unattached to being male or female, paired with androgynous gender fluid clothing. It may seem odd to those who have identified as cisgender their whole lives to grasp the concept of gender fluidity, but many gender-fluid identifying people describe it as experiencing the reality of both genders, just in different timeframes, experiencing a sense of gender euphoria when presenting according to how they feel.

Supporting gender fluidity on campus

As our society grows more inclusive and understanding, the percentage of people becoming comfortable enough to come out as gender-fluid and live their lives accordingly has increased. So, how can you understand and subsequently support the people around you who identify as gender-fluid? There is no complicated step-by-step guide, nor a specific “how-to” manual in that regard, but there are some basic guidelines that may allow your peers to feel safe, comfortable, and appreciated.

Use their preferred pronouns

Being a good ally to the LGBTQ+ community involves dedicating effort to honoring pronouns, creating inclusive spaces, and educating oneself in areas of inexperience. Although it may take some getting used to, switching back and forth between someone’s pronouns in accordance to their preference is probably the best way someone can be supportive of a gender-fluid college peer. By using the pronoun they identify with, you are proving to them that you hear what they have to say, you respect their feelings, and are dedicated to their comfort.

Take time to listen

Beyond usage of proper pronouns, being supportive can be as simple as listening and validating their experiences as members of the LGBTQ+ community, or as involved as joining a local campus campaign to educate and spread acceptance regarding identities across the gender spectrum. Dormitory living is an aspect of college life that is unique to on-campus living. Allowing gender-fluid dorm mates to use the bathroom and showers that they feel comfortable with will relieve social stigma and gender dysphoria. If campus policy does not support your gender-fluid peers, becoming part of a movement within the student council to modify policy and create a safe, inclusive place for everyone may be a massive way to show support.

Educate yourself

Remember, being a part of a minority group can be stressful, harmful, and even dangerous for some people. Do not expect your gender-fluid classmate to be an educational resource for you or someone who answers all of your LGBTQ+-related questions. There are many online resources, as well as books and other media that can be an asset to you on your educational journey towards understanding and appreciating those around you.

Whether it is using their pronoun of choice, respecting their presentation using gender-fluid clothing, honoring their identity in social situations, or educating yourself on the reality of being different, there are many avenues to being a good ally to gender-fluid individuals, most of which involve simply supporting their right to be comfortable in their own bodies. From organizing student body councils to make inclusive campus policies, to simply honoring someone’s pronoun preference, everyone has the ability to improve the quality of the college experience for their gender fluid peers.

Other Student Life

6 Tips to Launch an E-commerce Business While in College

September 27, 2021

Starting a business while you are still in college can help you earn money even before you graduate. This can help you be a self-supporting student or pay your student loan afterward.

If you are wondering what kind of business you can start while still in college, we suggest that you dive into e-commerce. Here’s why:

  1. It gives you the potential to earn while you sleep.
  2. It does not cost much to create your own e-commerce site.
  3. It has the potential to grow exponentially.

If you are interested in opening your online store, here are six tips you should keep in mind:

Define Your Market

The key to having a successful business is to ensure that people will be willing to buy your products. As such, you must define who your target market is.

Luckily, your college can be an excellent starting point. Observe the trends in your school or figure out their common dilemma. From there, you can niche down.

For instance, you notice that your schoolmates rely too much on processed food. What could be the reason behind it? And how do you intend to respond to it?

Find a Product to Sell

Once you have determined your target market, what you need to do next is to figure out what you can sell to them.

Using our previous example, there are two ways you can cater to the student’s need for a nutritious meal:

  1. You can sell homemade nutrition bars. It is cost-effective and easy to do on your part, while it gives your schoolmates an option for a healthy snack.
  2. You can dropship healthy, ready-to-cook meals. It eliminates your need to produce the product and manage your inventory. Plus, you can have a high profit margin.

These are just two examples of an online business model. You can come up with your own, depending on the resources that you have.

Name Your Online Store

After determining your target market, the product you will sell, and how you will sell it, the next step is to turn your business idea into reality. You start by naming your online store.

Here are some quick tips you can keep in mind:

●  Make it short and simple so that people can easily remember it.

●  Consider incorporating your target keyword (more on that later).

Set Up Your E-commerce Website

Here’s why you need a short and simple name for your e-commerce business: It’s because it will also serve as the domain name of your website.

To set up your online store, you will need a domain name and an e-commerce website builder like Shopify or WooCommerce. From there, you can choose a web design theme that you can tweak a bit before you begin.

Your website does not have to be perfect. But it should be functional.

And while this is the part where you will need to spend some money, setting up your e-commerce website should not cost much.

Understand SEO

Search Engine Optimization is ensuring that your e-commerce website will appear on search engines.

So, if you are selling nutrition bars online and one of your schoolmates typed in “affordable nutrition bar” on Google, your online store should be one of the search results.

Although you need to consider various factors in ranking a website for a specific keyword, we suggest learning SEO basics first. That way, you would know the fundamentals you need to apply on your e-commerce site for launch with a bang.

Leverage Social Media

Social media is an excellent way to market your business. More so, if your school has various Facebook Groups where you can join and sell your products.

You can also make a dedicated page for your online business to expand your market reach. What’s important is that you follow each platform’s guidelines.

It may sound like a lot of work, but starting an e-commerce business while still in college can benefit you. And when you follow the tips listed above, you can launch and grow your online store without hassle.

Other Student Life

How To Be Financially Smart Before and During Study Abroad

July 8, 2021

Before Study abroad 

Most students will want to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad in college. It is such an exciting opportunity that we can tend to get ahead of ourselves by daydreaming about the places we will travel to, planning out our Instagram poses, and begging our friends to come out and visit us. But what we can sometimes forget to do is start budgeting and saving up money for our travels before the semester abroad rolls around.

Summer work

If you are financing your study abroad, try to have at least three months prior where you can work consistently and set aside the money you make. Many students already know a year or so in advance that they are going to study abroad. Utilize the summer before the fall or spring term that you are studying abroad to work as often as you can so that you are able to save up as much as possible . Some days might be difficult if you are working 5-6 days a week and eight hours a day, but set your phone background as a picture of Europe, and remember that all the long hours will pay off when you are traveling the world for a semester.

Cutting out unnecessary expenses

In order to save as much as you can before getting on your plane to start your travels, there are a few expenses you can limit that we do not realize make a dent in our bank account: 

  • $5 dollar daily coffee 
  • Takeout/Eating out 
  • Limit your spending on social outings to twice a month instead of once each week
  • Shopping. You might feel like you need new clothes for your travels, but you will probably buy plenty in the countries you visit 

Apply for scholarships 

Schools like to show their support for study abroad programs by providing ample scholarship opportunities to their students. Look into your specific school program and try to apply to as many scholarships as you can.  There are many different amounts that students may receive, and any opportunity for aid should not be passed up. Even being awarded $200 will pay for a  fun experience, such as a weekend airbnb in Italy and most scholarships will award you more than that. 

During Study Abroad 

Budgeting is a long-term necessity. Saving your money while you are traveling is just as important as saving it before you go out and explore. It is easy to drain your wallet in the excitement that comes with being abroad, but following a few easy steps can help you be financially responsible. 

Create a budget 

During the week, give yourself a limit on the amount of money you spend going out to get food and drinks. Eating out and getting drinks tends to be a daily activity and can add up quickly, so make sure to keep track of this so that you avoid draining your travel money on things such as fancy pasta for lunch everyday.

Fly smart 

There is no need to book with expensive airlines, Although it may seem too good to be true, there are flights that will get you to the same location for as low as $30. RyanAir, for example, is a popular airline in Europe with competitive prices. Another practice to avoid expensive flights is to try and fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays as these days tend to be cheaper. 

Book airbnbs or private hostel rooms 

Many students do not love the idea of staying in a hostel and so they think they will be spending more on hotels. This, surprisingly, is not the case. Airbnbs are safe and inexpensive options all over Europe. Look into any reviews and check the location with popular tourist spots. Also, hostels have the option of private, two person rooms, which is an option people are more comfortable with rather than spending more on a private hotel room.

Saving money both before and during study abroad can be done easily and efficiently if you keep in mind these simple tips. It is important to always remember why you are saving money as staying focused on your goal can motivate you to keep up your progress. These budgeting tips and other methods of saving money for school programs and activities can also be applied throughout your life in many different areas. 

Safe travels and happy saving!

BIO: Elie Corbett is a senior at Northern Arizona University majoring in Marketing. She is interning at GradGuard for the summer. She loves to spend time with her friends,  travel, and go to concerts!