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Transition Uncategorized

4 Years, 8 Semesters, 120 Credit Hours

September 24, 2019

This task ahead of every full-time college student. For some, it will take longer and others shorter. This usually means that a student will have to take about 15 credit hours per semester. Some students take more.

Accommodating

Many college students have to work while they are in school and it can be a major challenge to manage a coursework load and an employee workload. Thankfully there are multiple solutions to manage 120 credit hours and 20-40 hr work week. Online classes and summer classes are just two of the options available to lighten the load allowing for students to achieve academic success while not having to be stressed out over the balance between working and completing school. 

Online Courses

Online classes are great ways to give students more control over managing their time. An online class does not have a set time that students have to attend a lecture. There are due dates for assignments and as long as the student is able to complete the assignments within the time that is due they are fine. Online classes allow students to work from wherever and whenever they want to. Some students will work on their academic material while they are at work. 

Summer Courses

Summer classes are extremely effective in allowing students to get more work done over the same amount of time. Just think, if you take two summer classes in between every spring and fall semester then you would only have to take 12 credits per semester instead of 15 and still graduate on time with 120 credits. Another great reason to take summer classes is that they keep the mind going. Students will be working hard during the school year and then after finals week of the spring semester, they will enter summer break mode. While it is nice to take a small break from schoolwork, a three-month-long break is not healthy for staying in the academic groove. Working out the mind is very similar to working out the body. If one does not continue to workout the mind it will become sluggish, making it difficult to start the next fall semester. But taking a couple summer classes allows students to continue exercising their mind but not to the point that it’s a burden. Keeping a small connection to academics during the offseason will make the transition back into the academic year a swift one. 

Navigating the course of college is not a simple task. It takes grit, determination and strategic planning. 4 years, 8 semesters, 120 credit hours. This can seem like a lot being thrown at you but there are plenty of ways to lighten the load and smoothen the path. Taking online courses and summer classes are just two ways to help simplify the college management process. Learn more about college tips, tricks, and hacks by visiting the GradGuard blog.

Health Uncategorized

Can Pets Improve Student Mental Health?

September 12, 2019

If you’re a student living away from home for the first time, it can be hard and sometimes lonely adjusting to your new life. More and more students are facing mental health challenges, but what if you could take a familiar friend from home with you?

The likelihood is, if you’re living in student accommodations, you might not be allowed to keep larger pets such as cats or dogs. However, many landlords will let you keep smaller animals such as fish, hamsters or even guinea pigs. 

Taking a pet with you to university or college not only makes the transition easier for you, but pets have also been proven to improve students mental health too. 

Here are three myths that we have busted and scientifically proven, relating to pets and mental health.  

Myth #1: Pets Can’t Reduce Anxiety

Having a pet can help to reduce your anxiety and stress levels, even a pet as tiny as the popular Guppy fish can help alleviate stress. 

A study carried out in the 80’s found that simply watching fish swimming in an aquarium can reduce anxiety levels by up to 12%. 

A second study conducted much more recently by the University of Exeter and Plymouth University found that watching fish ‘led to noticeable reductions in participants blood pressure and heart rate.’

Large animals can also help to reduce stress. This study, carried out in an educational environment found that just ten minutes of petting a cat or dog can reduce anxiety levels. 

If you’re feeling anxious at starting new classes, taking exams or even making new friends at your school, having a pet can really help to reduce anxiety and make student life as fun as it’s supposed to be for you. 

Myth #2: Pets Can’t Help Depression

Students that own a pet are less likely to suffer from depression than those who don’t. Larger animals such as dogs encourage their owners to get out and exercise and get some fresh air. 

Fresh air and walks are now being recommended by some doctors for people who have depression symptoms. 

Having a pet can help you connect with people from special interest groups, such as Fishkeeping Groups, Dog Groups or even Reptile Groups. 

Pets are very empathetic, and offer a lot of emotional support, especially since they can’t actually talk back! They just sit and listen, offering a really soothing presence. 

Even pets that are as tiny as crickets can help to alleviate depression symptoms. 

Myth #3: Having a Pet Will Make Me More Isolated and Lonely

Sometimes people think that if you have a dog or small pet which you need to take care of that you’ll be more isolated. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Firstly, having a companion living with you can make you feel less lonely. It’s someone to talk to when no-one else is around and is just generally nice company. 

Pets not only become great friends but can also encourage you to get out and meet other like-minded people who share the same pet or interests.

If your studies, being away from home and exams are causing you stress, or even depression, why not consider welcoming a new pet into your life?

If you can’t have any kind of pet in your dorm room, you should think about volunteering at a local animal shelter, or maybe becoming a local dog walker so you can interact with animals daily! There are also different ways to get your animal fix when you are on-campus–just keep an eye out for those stress-relieving events.

BIO: Robert Woods is an avid fish keeper and advocate for all things fish related, including the many mental health benefits which can be derived from keeping fish.

Health Uncategorized

6 Life-Changing Healthy Habits for the Busiest College Student

September 11, 2019

College is a great place to learn, make friends, and try new things. With so much to juggle, you may notice your health taking a backseat. No need to worry, though. Here are a few simple healthy habits you can start implementing right now to set yourself up for success!

1. Don’t Skip Meals

When you’re constantly on-the-go with a hectic schedule, it can be difficult to eat three proper meals throughout the day. You may start to miss or even skip meals, leading to weight and energy changes and disruption of your overall health. Eating every few hours is crucial for your health as it helps keep your brain alert and elevates your mood. 

2. Join a Fitness Class

Trying to find the drive to go to the gym each day can be nearly impossible when you’re in college. However, staying active is crucial for various aspects of your health. It promotes restful sleep, weight maintenance, energy, and serves as a great stress reliever. If the gym isn’t your thing, there are various easy ways to get moving and maintain motivation. Most colleges offer fitness classes for credits, which is great for not only prioritizing your fitness but boosting your GPA as well. 

3. Take Care of Your Skin

Your skin serves as an external reflection of what’s going on inside of your body. Anything from stress, poor hygiene, eating habits, to your water intake can affect the health of your skin. As a college student with a full agenda, it’s not uncommon for your skin to experience some adverse changes. First, reflect on potential external factors, such as stressors and diet, and determine what you can do to combat these. From there, work on creating a skin-care regimen that’s easy to follow. Your skin will be back on track in no time!

4. Utilize Telemedicine

Telemedicine allows you to connect directly with a healthcare professional online. From there, you can receive a proper diagnosis and even a prescription sent straight to your door. Too sick to go to the doctor? This is the perfect time to speak to a health professional online. Or, if you’re in a new city where you don’t have a specialist, you can leverage telemedicine to get the care you need. Are you taking care of your skin with a new regimen as suggested in section 3, but nothing’s changing? Contact a dermatologist online to get a prescribed acne treatment sent right to your dorm room. Technology is making prioritizing your health even easier.

5. Avoid Liquid Calories

Getting that caramel macchiato before class sounds like a great idea to stay caffeinated, but is it really? Many coffee beverages are filled with sugar, causing you to crash much harder later. Sodas, certain teas, and energy drinks can also contain large amounts of sugar as well. Try to swap your coffee for a plain one and trade flavored drinks for water to stay hydrated throughout the day. If you’re not a fan of water, try infusing fruit into a water bottle for added flavor. 

6. Practice Stress-Relieving Techniques

College can be stressful, there’s no doubt about it. Although you can’t always prevent stress from happening, you can find healthy techniques to help you deal with stress. It’s important to find a technique that works specifically for you and your needs. Common methods include yoga, meditation, walking in nature, journaling, talking it out, or going for a run. Once you find one that you enjoy, be sure to practice it whenever you’re starting to feel overwhelmed.

Health Uncategorized

Free is Better!

September 6, 2019

College is expensive! Luckily, there are loads of zero cost resources available to you on campus. You are paying thousands of dollars to attend school so get your money’s worth. Here are a few “free” resources that every student should take advantage of:

Gym/Pool: Nearly every university has a weight room and pool available to students. Check with the fitness center to see if free fitness classes are also offered.

Tennis/Racquetball/Volleyball/Basketball Courts: Not only is there free access to these facilities, but most universities also offer free equipment rentals. There are usually scheduled nights where you can drop in and play a pickup game.

Sporting Events: A lot of universities offer free admission to sporting events. Football and basketball games are always popular, but you might have just as much fun at a volleyball or tennis match. In addition, free shirts are everywhere at sporting events.

Tutors: Paying for a personal tutor can be extremely expensive, but many universities offer free tutors. In addition, utilize your university’s writing center, where qualified students will edit your essays and research papers for free.

Software: Using your student email address, most universities offer free software downloads. This typically includes Microsoft Office, Photoshop, and much more. Before you buy any software, make sure to check if it is available through your university, as you will likely get a discount.

Food: There is free food EVERYWHERE at university. If you pay attention you will see flyers for events almost every day offering free pizza, ice cream, etc. The only real cost is your time (which might not be worth that much if you play Fortnite as often the average college student).

Intramurals: There are intramurals for several sports, including flag football, volleyball, basketball, kickball, tennis, and frisbee. Intramurals are great for the guys who peaked in high school when they were the captain of the varsity basketball team, but they are also a great way to meet people and stay active. Be warned, intramurals can be very competitive. If you want to play intramurals but don’t want to get in any fights, then consider playing on a coed team.

Counseling: University may expose you to more stress then you have ever experienced in your life. It’s completely normal if you start to develop depression or anxiety. Luckily, universities offer complimentary counseling services. Do not be afraid to use these resources! You might be surprised at how many people utilize them.

Using these resources will enrich your college experience without breaking the bank. For more ways to save money, refer to the Not-Rich Guide made by students at the University of Michigan. Although this guide is specific to the University of Michigan, much of the advice is applicable wherever you go to school. Your university may even have its own “Not-Rich” guide or something similar to assist you in saving money!

Health Uncategorized

Essential Recipes for College Students

September 6, 2019

As a college student, you are probably already sick of eating at the dining hall and eating out can be way too costly. There is a solution to this issue! You don’t need a full kitchen to have a delicious meal. You can cook something great right inside your dorm room. Here are some recipes that are perfect for college students!

2 Minute Omelette in a Mug

This is the perfect recipe for a student who is looking for a quick breakfast in the morning. You can get a boost of protein from this customizable microwavable meal!

Two Minute Thai Peanut Noodles

This is a recipe that reinvents your typical bag of ramen noodles. Adding only a few ingredients takes a cheap and ordinary meal and turns it into something special! 

Peanut Butter Banana Wraps

This is a simple and easy to assemble recipe! If you have a busy day this is a great option for a meal you can eat on the go.

 5-Minute Vegetarian Burrito Bowl

Whether you are a vegetarian or not, this is a great lunch or dinner option for any college student. With only a few ingredients you can assemble a tasty and healthy meal in the comfort of your own room. 

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Mug cakes are delicious and easy to make! It could be fun to invite some friends over to make mug cakes in your dorm on a cold day. 

These recipes are easy to make and will be a refreshing change of pace from dining hall food. Cooking is a fun activity to do with friends or even on your own! Having a few recipes available to make in your dorm for when you don’t want to go to the dining hall will come in handy. Experiment with these recipes and look for some of your own to figure out what works best for you!

Transition Uncategorized

Cutting College Costs Like a Boss

August 29, 2019

Tuition costs continue to rise every year, but one thing seems to remain constant: attending college often necessitates penny-pinching. Whether it’s eating out less to buy textbooks or applying for scholarships to avoid debt, saving money and attending college go hand in hand.

Here are some of my methods for reining in your spending, hopefully earning a buck or two on the side, and still enjoying a four- (for some five-) year education—without resorting to dumpster diving.

Read on for five tips to help you cut costs.

1. Limit eating or drinking out (unless it’s a good deal)

Scour your local watering holes for deals, become a coupon clipper, and refuse to go out unless you know you won’t have to pay full price.

In general, though, you’ll save a lot more money if you buy groceries and cook yourself. Or, if you’re fortunate enough to live close to home, you could always mooch food off your parents.

2. Student discounts

It’s incredible how many businesses will give you a discount if you flash that plastic, poorly printed student ID of yours. Restaurants, movie tickets, admission to concerts, you name it. Don’t know for sure? Just ask! Maybe you can even persuade them to give you a discount.

3. Be shrewd with textbooks

Here is some advice: get clever. Talk to classmates, read reviews on the course, and see if you really need the book for the class. If you do, consider renting instead of buying (which is generally cheaper).

Or, try to buy it cheaper online. Look on Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook, or your college forums. You could even harass people who took the class last semester to loan you their old one.

Finally, if you can get away with buying an older edition of the same textbook, you can save a TON of money. It doesn’t work for every class, but when it can, it’s a godsend.

4. Get a side-hustle

No amount of saving will help if you don’t have even a small influx of cash. In college, your earning options are limited:

  • Get loans and go into (more) debt.
  • Beg your parents for money.
  • Apply for scholarships.
  • Get a job.
  • All of the above.

If you haven’t searched for scholarships yet, what are you waiting for? It’s free money, and sometimes you can earn them for ridiculous things. Good at duck calling? Scholarship. Is your last name Zolp? Scholarship. Check out your college’s .edu site, find some scholarships, and apply!

If you don’t want to write an essay, you could always get a job on the side. You could drive for Uber or Lyft when it’s convenient for you. Don’t have a car? Work one of the many jobs available on campus (conveniently within walking distance!). There’s no shortage of jobs if you’re willing to look.

5. Profit

Those are just a few tips, and it barely scratches the surface— college students should consider the importance of insuring essentials

Bio: Alex Enabnit, an ASU grad and certified tightwad, is an insurance and Medicare writer for Eligibility.com. In his spare time, you’ll find him trying to avoid the sun and stay cool while failing at both.

Health Uncategorized

Considering tuition insurance? Here’s why one family calls it a “lifesaver”

August 24, 2019
GradGuard member Camrey and her mother, Mindy explain how tuition insurance helped their family

The National Student Clearinghouse, which follows the status of undergraduates at institutions eligible for federal aid, publishes the most reliable data on college completion measures including something called the “persistence” rate. This is the percentage of students who return to college at any institution for their second year. 

According to the organization’s most recent report, of the 3.5 million students who enrolled in college for the first time in fall 2017, 74% returned to any U.S. school the following fall. That means one in four students who start college, do not return to any college the following year. That’s nearly 900,000 students went through all the trouble and expense to enroll, possibly borrow money, apply for and receive government grants, purchase books, and perhaps even move, but did not return to school the next year. They also did not transfer to another school.

This helps put in perspective the value and need for tuition insurance. Though the primary reasons students do not return to school appear to be factors related to academic readiness and capacity to pay, the truth is other life events get in the way.

This is where GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance can help. When a student needs to withdraw for legitimate reasons such as unexpected illness, injury or accident, tuition insurance can provide a refund when colleges may not.

The best way to see the value of tuition insurance is to hear from a member who enrolled in the program. Indeed, as one of GradGuard’s customer reports:

“Tuition Insurance was such a lifesaver. It should be an option on every college and university website,” – Mindy D., GradGuard member

Watch below to hear her explain how she considered protecting her daughter, and how tuition insurance enabled her to avoid a large financial loss when she became ill during the semester.

“It saved our family’s lives. I would tell everyone to get tuition insurance.”

Thanks to GradGuard’s collaboration with Allianz Global Assistance – it is now easier than ever before for college students and their families to receive valuable protection for the investment they make in higher education.

If your school does not provide 100% refunds, it is useful for parents to ask the school to do so. Most school leaders surveyed agreed that it should be as convenient for families to protect a $30,000 or more investment in college as it is for consumers to protect a $300 vacation with travel insurance.

We are thankful that we worked closely with the school where Mindy’s daughter, Camrey, was enrolled. As a college parent, she clearly expresses the value of tuition insurance and the peace of mind it provided to her and her family as they cared for Camrey’s well-being.

This article was updated in May 2020.

Safety Uncategorized

Students Remain Vulnerable to Losses from Campus Fires & Crime

August 20, 2019

Growth in campus fires and crimes confirm the value of renters insurance for college students.

More than 3 million college students are preparing to move into on-campus student housing and dorms.  While living on campus is proven to help promote greater college completion, students are often living independently for the first time and are vulnerable to unique risks. 

According to an analysis of nearly a decade of Clery Act reports on Campus Safety of more than 6,000 colleges and universities, annually there are more than 37,000 crime and safety incidents on college campuses. Further, there are 1,726 fires reported within on-campus student housing.

With so much money at stake, John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, “suggests that college students and families make-aplan in case your student’s property is damaged by a fire or water damage or if they are found responsible for unintentional damages they may cause.”

The Top 3 Reasons GradGuard’s Renters Insurance is a Smart Decision for College Students:

  1. If you can’t afford to replace your backpack, bicycle or computer. – Renters insurance can replace your stolen or damaged property.  Renters insurance can cover those costs and help you get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  2. If your school does not replace stolen or damaged property. – In a 2017 survey of student housing leaders, 98% of schools report that they do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk. 
  3. If you can’t afford to pay for damages you cause. True renters insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

GradGuard’s renters insurance policy is designed for college students living either on or off-campus.    GradGuard’s renters insurance contains an exclusive student endorsement that provides affordable coverage ideal for college life and provides both personal property and liability protection:

  • Worldwide property coverage (for study abroad or mid-term trips);
  • Aa low-deductible starting at $100;
  • Replacement cost coverage. 

According to Fees, ‘For about 50-cents a day, students can protect their students’ belongings against losses, making renters insurance a must-have consideration for college families. In fact, 84% of state insurance commissioners recommend students obtain renters insurance. Whether you are living on or off-campus,  college students and their families are smart to consider purchasing renters insurance before the start of school.”

Transition Uncategorized

Finding the Best School For You

August 15, 2019

For many high school seniors, the transition period between high school and college can be just as stressful as it can be exciting. One of the major stress factors during this period is deciding what college students are going to attend. Many factors go into this decision.

The Basics

There are some general things to look at when choosing a school; price, location, school size, grade/test score requirements, available programs, and student living conditions are just a few of the main aspects that future college students are looking at. A great way to narrow down the search is by figuring out three things that you want in a college. From those three categories, you should be able to gather a list of 5-10 schools that interest you. 

Go On a Tour

The next step is to make your best effort to visit all of the schools you are focusing on. The visit is one of the most important steps of picking a school because it gives you the option to try the school on for size. Just like a pair of shoes, you will not know if it’s a comfortable fit until you check it out in real life. When visiting the school try to schedule a guided tour. It’s the best way to get the most out of your visit. Tour guides are normally students who know their way around and can highlight some important areas of the campus. This also gives you the ability to ask questions. Asking questions helps ensure you know as much about the school as you possibly can.

Take Notes

After each visit, be sure to make notes of the highlights. Having a physical list in front of you can help with the decision process; you are able to see the pros, the cons, and the things you might need to know more about before making the big choice.

From here you should be able to make an educated and confident decision of the school you will be attending. While making this decision can be stressful,  gathering as much information about the schools will make the process go smoother. No matter your preferences, if you put in the due diligence, finding the right school to put you on the path to success is possible.

Student Life Uncategorized

Finding Community in College

August 15, 2019

Starting a new school can be frightening, especially if you are moving far away from the friends and family you are so accustomed to seeing. There are many things you can do to feel settled on campus, but one of the most important is finding a community. When you have your own “college family”, the transition to college life is much smoother. Here are five tips that will help you to find community in college:

Attend a Pre-Orientation Program

A great way to go into college with some friends under your belt is attending a pre-orientation program. Many colleges are offering this as an option to incoming freshmen. It is a great way to connect with people who have similar interests as you and are also new to the university. This is also a great way to become acquainted with the university before campus becomes busy. 

Introduce Yourself to People in Your Dorm Hall or Apartment

You never know if your new best friend is living in the dorm right next to you! It can be a great idea to keep your door open when you are in your dorm and go around and say hi to your neighbors. 

Join Clubs!

Clubs are obviously a great way to meet others who have similar interests. There are so many different options for clubs that students can join. There are many clubs that specialize in different interests and cultural backgrounds. You can feel more at home if you can connect with people who come from similar backgrounds.

Volunteer

Another way to make connections is through volunteer work. Volunteering is a great way to get out into your community and meet new people. Many universities provide opportunities to do service on campus and in the surrounding area. 

Make the First Move

When you are starting out in college, it is important to put yourself out there. If you are proactive about meeting new people are fostering friendships, you should have no problem finding your community on campus.

With the new year beginning, be sure to remember these tips from GradGuard and get comfortable with your new home! It truly is the best time of your life so be sure to enjoy it.