Browsing Tag

college life

Transition

Transitioning From High School Life to College Life – What You Need to Know

January 13, 2021

As a high school student, thinking about heading into your first year of college can be both exciting and scary all at once. You’re used to living at home with your family. You’ve probably had most things taken care of for you, and you’ve lived a certain way with specific household rules your entire life.

College changes all of that in an instant.

When you transition from a high school senior to a college freshman, you go from being a “kid” to an adult. More responsibilities rest in your lap than ever before, from doing your own laundry to taking care of your own finances. Though dorm life may not be a completely accurate representation of what it’s like to own your own home or apartment, it gives teenagers a taste of what the real world is really like.

It’s your first step into adulthood, and it’s okay to be nervous. But, the transition doesn’t have to scare you. By preparing ahead of time for college and knowing what to expect, you will have an easier time “leaving the nest” at home and moving forward into the next chapter of your life. Let’s look at some lessons that can help you along the way.

Managing Your Finances

One of the biggest hurdles college students have to face is managing their money. And in many cases, they’re having to do this for the first time. While some students continue to get money from their parents, about 75% of students have jobs while they’re in school, and the average yearly income for a college student is about $13,000. Finding a successful balance between work and attending classes isn’t always easy, especially as a freshman.

If you need to get a job while you’re in school, make sure you:

  • Set your priorities
  • Have goals in mind
  • Handle your free time safely and wisely
  • Don’t let yourself burn out

Talk to your professors about your job, even if it’s only part-time. You don’t want to end up missing a class for work, especially if your teachers don’t know that you’re employed. Most professors are willing to be a bit flexible and understanding if you’re upfront with them about your job and why you need to work. If you end up with too many unexcused absences and they don’t know why, it could reflect poorly on your grade, or you may not even pass the class.

Even if you do find work while you’re at school, it’s important to maintain a budget. You can do this ahead of time, before you find a job, to determine how much you will need to earn to pay for things like food, or even rent if you’re living in an apartment. The cost of living is different depending on which part of the country you’re in, and so is the minimum wage. Be sure to do your research on the state where you’re attending college as you build your budget to determine your monthly financial needs.

Staying Connected

One of the best things you can do to make your high school to college transition easier is to stay connected with the people you’re closest to. Now, more than ever, it’s important to feel a connection with loved ones. You might be attending a school that is doing distance learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For a new college student, that can increase feelings of isolation, which can lead to mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

Thankfully, technology makes it easier than ever to remain in contact with the people you care about. Work out a schedule that fits your needs when it comes to talking to the people that are important in your life. That might include a weekly Zoom call with your friends from home, or calling your parents each night.

If you’re traveling abroad for a semester, make sure you have the right phone plan set up before you go, and instant messaging apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and Messenger so you can stay in touch with friends and family back home. Staying connected with the people you’re used to can help you to not feel so alone in a new place, especially during these times of uncertainty.

With that said, it’s also important not to depend on those people to manage your stress or keep you happy. If you spend all of your time connecting with people back home, you could be missing out on new friendships that could last a lifetime. So, while you might spend your first few weeks of school staying in touch with friends and family, eventually you should work to strike a healthy balance between communicating with those at home and spending time with new friends and roommates.

Making the Transition Easier

Feeling overwhelmed yet? You don’t need to. About 20 million families send their kids off to college every year, and everyone has to work through that initial transition period. While it can be a nerve-wracking time, it’s also the first step on your journey to the next chapter of your life.

While it’s important to be organized and fully-prepared, there are other things you can do to make the transition from high school to college easier on yourself, including:

  • Having realistic expectations about the college experience
  • Taking care of yourself by exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep
  • Managing your stress levels
  • Finding groups/clubs you’re interested in
  • Being assertive when necessary
  • Learning to problem-solve

One of the biggest roadblocks many new college students face is procrastination. When everything is new and exciting, things like homework and studying can quickly be put on the back burner. Unfortunately, that kind of attitude will eventually lead to excess stress. Make sure your dorm space is set up for productivity by eliminating distractions, having good lighting, and keeping it neat and organized.

College can end up being one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life. You’ll be able to share stories about your time there for years to come. While the initial transition might be scary, you will learn to ease into it quickly, and make lasting memories along the way.

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.

Student Life

The Best Streaming Device Options for College Students

January 8, 2021

Studying can be grueling. One sure-fire way to escape your frazzled brain is a few good hours of binge-watching your favorite series.

Many students make do using their laptop, tablet or even just their phone for watching TV. But, without breaking the bank, it’s possible to make this all-important down-time a little more comfortable.

To upgrade your setup in a worthwhile way, there are a few things to consider.

We’ve compiled a list of recommended streaming devices based on price, quality and usability features. 

Apple 4K

With a starting price of $179, the new Apple TV 4K might be a little unnecessarily pricey for your budget, unless the added features make it worth your while. Yes, you can get Airplay or Apple TV+ on other hardware, but this latest updated software allows for linking up to your PlayStation and Xbox controllers for an all-in-one entertainment device.

Between the Apple Arcade game streaming service and the vast extent of cloud gaming options, if you’re an Apple fan, this may be the most solid system choice moving forward. Certainly, when it comes to the number of titles available through one device, it’s unparalleled. In addition, for cable-powered apps it features a zero sign-on setup.

If you’re not an Apple lover, check out the best value-for-money Android TV boxes

NVIDIA Shield TV 4K

Before we get much more budget-friendly, let’s talk about the NVIDIA Shield TV 4K HDR streaming media player. This device will set you back around $200 and yes, its fantastic quality – but for such a hefty price tag you have to ask yourself, do you really need it? Unless you are a hardcore gamer and/or have a 4K TV, probably not. That said, it is arguably the best in its class – fast, voice-control enabled and with superior Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos surround sound. If quality is your thing and you can afford it, you won’t regret it.

Amazon 4K Fire TV Stick

This little Amazon Fire TV stick was certainly designed with ease of use in mind. With a recommended retail price of $62.97, this remote bundle comes with a new wi-fi antenna for optimized 4K Ultra HD streaming. That, added to its Alexa voice command capabilities, makes for a superior streaming experience.

Roku Streaming Stick

If you’re not much of a gamer and you really need a bargain, then this super affordable streaming option might be your best bet. The Roku Streaming Stick currently comes in at just $29.40 and is easily portable to boot. With supported internet services that include Netflix, HBO, Prime Video, Hulu with Live TV, Apple TV, Showtime, The Roku Channel, and Google Play, it’s a great all-rounder as well as Alexa voice-control friendly.

Micca Speck G2 1080 Portable Digital Media Player

The Micca Speck G2 is an affordable choice that has a portable-friendly design and is powerful enough to stream whatever you’re into. Supporting a wide range of connections and files, this device comes with a car power adapter and although not voice control enabled, has a full function remote control. For anyone worried about cost, at just $37.99 this little streamer might be all you need. 

Matricom G-Box Q (v3) Android Media Mini PC

With an Android OS, the Matricom G-Box Q² is well worth a mention. With a sleek, portable design, this fast-processing device is the closest thing to a PC that’s all play. Unlike many streaming devices, this is a full android computer designed for your living room, that is free from any restrictions. You can install and customize all your favorite apps and it also supports Amazon Prime video access. Priced at $77, it’s a lot for your money.

Final thoughts

These are just some of the streaming device options available and it’s well worth doing your homework before making your purchase. Not only do the prices differ considerably, but both the quality and applications for use do too, and it will pay off if you research the options based on your personal preferences. Happy streaming!

Student Life

Testimonial: Protect Your Stuff This Semester With Renters Insurance

January 4, 2021

College might feel like one big protective bubble. As much as people like to think that it will never happen to them, the reality is that crime can affect anybody.

Closed-in environments, like college housing units and apartment complexes, are often especially targeted by thieves. In fact, 30,000 or more burglaries related to college students and campuses are reported each year, according to the U.S. Department of Education Campus Safety and Security.

However, there are certain measures one can take to ensure peace of mind about personal belongings staying safe. One of those measures is protecting your stuff with renters insurance, which came in handy for a student at San Francisco State University when her laptop was stolen from her dorm room.

Eyu first learned about GradGuard’s Renters Insurance when she started school at SFSU. Based on the affordability for college students like her, she purchased a policy while living in the dorms on campus.

One day, when she went to the bathroom, she left her dorm room door cracked open. Her laptop was on her bed before she left, and when she returned, it was gone. Eyu filed a police report for the theft and then called GradGuard to file a claim.

She was reimbursed for her laptop and was able to purchase a new one.

“I learned a lot from this situation,” Eyu said. “I can’t afford to pay for another laptop. So if it wasn’t for that insurance, I don’t know… I probably would have never had my laptop.”

Don’t be a victim to theft! Protect your stuff for college, including your laptop, bike, and backpack, with GradGuard’s Renters Insurance.

Student Life

Don’t Rely on College Refunds: Why Tuition Insurance is Important

January 4, 2021

This year has left many individuals uncertain what their academic futures will look like. With COVID forcing colleges and universities to change their business tactics, many students are finding it nearly impossible to get tuition refunds if they are forced to withdraw from school.


How can you protect your investment in your education and get a full refund for your college tuition?

Tuition insurance is a great way to keep your finances secure in a time of crisis. Here’s a guide to help you understand tuition insurance and how it could benefit you.


How COVID has Affected Refund Policies


Most colleges and universities offer a refund policy allowing you to get your money back after deciding to withdraw from school. This usually applies only to the first five weeks of college. However, most schools do not refund 100% of the money you paid to attend.


COVID has affected college life in many ways as most students shift to online classes. Many institutions are continuing to charge room and board, even while students study from home. Some classes also lack certain classroom fundamentals. This includes mock trials, clinical experiences, and more.


Some colleges have found themselves unable to give refunds at all. The virus has brought many new changes that universities aren’t sure how to cope with; some schools are citing a lack of funding as a reason to hold onto college tuition. Due to this lack of funding, among other issues that universities are facing with the virus, you may have a hard time getting a refund.


What That Means for You

If you decide to attend college or a university in the near future and decide to withdraw yourself, you may be out of luck when trying to get a refund. Some students have taken their universities to court over the matter. Many cases are still pending and waiting for a resolution. 


Not only will you be paying for things you won’t actually receive, such as room and board, but you may not even get your money back after dropping out. At most, you may receive a small fraction of what you paid. 


What is Tuition Insurance?


Are you considering applying for college in the coming year? If so, then you should strongly consider getting tuition insurance for yourself. This will help you protect your money in case you decide not to follow through with your education.


Tuition insurance, otherwise known as tuition refund insurance, is exactly what it sounds like; it protects you from being denied a tuition refund after withdrawing from school. The reasoning behind your withdrawal, however, must be due to your medical or mental state. For example, if you received a serious injury that prevents you from attending your classes, then you can get your tuition funds back with tuition insurance.


Your reimbursement may depend on the type of coverage you apply for. This means that you are not guaranteed a 100% refund just because you have tuition insurance; however, it is better to receive a percentage of your tuition because of your insurance than to be denied any refund.


Tuition insurance commonly covers one academic term. However, you are able to purchase additional insurance policies in order to protect yourself throughout your academic career. 


The Benefits of Tuition Insurance


Tuition insurance can grant you peace of mind when it comes to paying for your education. You can know that your investment in your education is safe and that if the worst happens, you can get your money refunded. 


If you are wondering whether or not tuition insurance is right for you, there are a couple of things you can consider.


First off, consider the overall cost of your tuition. Is the institution you are attending particularly expensive? If so, then tuition insurance can greatly ease your mind and is a great way to protect your investment.


If you have a chronic illness or severe mental illness or disability that may make it hard for you to attend college, then tuition insurance is a great way to protect yourself. The last thing you want is to enter into your institution and realize you cannot continue due to your physical or mental health.


With COVID as a serious threat to your physical health, you should strongly consider tuition insurance in case you do contract the virus. This disease can leave you bedridden for weeks, which would make you incapable of completing your schoolwork and attending your classes even if they are online.


How to Get Tuition Insurance


If you are considering tuition insurance, you will need to apply for coverage before beginning the academic year. You are not required to purchase tuition insurance for the entirety of your academic career, so choose your plan and coverage wisely.


There are many different plans that you can choose from, so do your research before settling on a plan. Your school likely offers various forms of tuition insurance, so don’t hesitate to look and see what plans they are offering as well. 


Protect Yourself and Your Money


There’s no need to worry about where your money is going when it comes to your college tuition. With tuition insurance, you can keep your assets safe and get a college refund without being denied by your university.


Are you considering attending a university in the near future but are concerned about needing to have your tuition refunded?


We’re here to help. Contact us with any questions or concerns you have about our tuition insurance and continue reading our blog for more helpful information.

Adulting Student Life

Do College Students Need Renters Insurance or Does a Homeowners Insurance Policy Cover Them?

December 28, 2020

There are 17 million students enrolled in American undergraduate degree programs. While a small portion of these students continue to live at home, the majority live in campus housing or in off-site housing near their institutions during the academic year. 

Planning for college housing can be an intensive process. Schools, students, and their families worry about roommates, transportation, and dozens of other factors in hopes of creating the best possible living and learning environments. Too often, though, one critical concern falls through the cracks: insurance coverage.

But aren’t college students covered by their families’ homeowners policies? Do separate renters insurance policies offer enough extra protections to be worthwhile? Here are the facts.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover College Students? 

“Will my parents’ homeowners insurance cover me in college?” is not a question that many students think to ask. Most understandably assume that the answer is “of course,” particularly if they intend to live in dorms or other on-campus housing. But how accurate is this assumption?

A survey of the top 20 insurance providers shows that only 13 include coverage for college students in their homeowners’ policies. Among these:

  • Some policies provide only liability coverage with no protections for personal property
  • Some policies provide coverage for students in dorms but not for students living in apartments or off-campus housing 
  • Some policies offer reduced protections or coverage for students living away from home
  • Deductibles are often higher for situations where the affected family member is a college student living away from home
  • Factors such as where the college is located and campus crime rates can affect coverage, leading to unexpected coverage gaps

College student coverage can vary widely between insurers and between policies from the same insurer. In almost every case, coverage for students at school is different than for the rest of the family or for the student while they are at home.

Families must review their policies carefully to determine what protections they offer. 

The Pros and Cons of Relying on Homeowners Insurance  

Do you have a homeowners’ policy that offers protections for college students? If so, there are many benefits of taking advantage of that coverage rather than buying a separate renters policy for your student. 

  • You don’t have to pay extra for a second policy 
  • There will be no confusion over which policy applies in the event that you need to make a claim
  • You continue to enjoy coverage with a provider and policy you are familiar with and trust 
  • If you have already made payments toward your deductible, they will reduce your out-of-pocket costs in future claims

Relying on your homeowners’ policy can have disadvantages as well, however. 

  • Your policy may not offer the extent of coverage that you need in the event of theft or other losses
  • You may face a separate and higher deductible for incidents involving your student 
  • You may run into unexpected and expensive coverage gaps depending on the circumstances
  • Filing and documenting claims may be challenging if your student is going to college far away but the policy is in your name

How much coverage you need and whether or not your existing policy is enough depends largely on your personal circumstances. 

Is Renters Insurance for College Kids Worth It?

Purchasing renters insurance for college students has its own pros and cons. It can be beneficial in that:

  • It tends to fully cover personal property, liability, and living expenses, giving you peace of mind 
  • Your coverage limits will be clearly spelled out, preventing gaps and unwelcome surprises
  • You may be able to secure a low-cost policy if your students’ roommates and their families chip in as well
  • Students can file claims and documentation themselves in the event of an incident 
  • Co-purchasing a policy with your student can teach them key life skills
  • Dual coverage under renters and homeowners policies ensures you are fully covered no matter what

But separate renters policies for students are not without their drawbacks.

  • They add extra costs to already-expensive undergraduate educations
  • They may need to be replaced or adjusted each time your students’ living situation or roommates change
  • Claims made by your students’ roommates show up in your insurance claim history which can be detrimental if there are large or numerous claims
  • You may need to juggle claims between the renters and homeowners policies if something happens 
  • Buying a policy that covers your student can be pricey depending on where your student lives while in school

While it can be a relief to have your coverage spelled out in a separate policy and know that you will be covered, it is important to weigh the costs and benefits to determine how valuable such a policy will actually be for you. 

How to Make the Most of Your Coverage

There are several steps that students and their families can take to help them decide what coverage they need. These steps will also enable them to make the most of their coverage, whether they rely on their homeowners’ policy or purchase renters insurance. 

Make an Inventory

Making an inventory of everything your student will take to college with them serves several purposes. First, it helps you assess the types of items you need coverage for and the total value of coverage that you need. This makes it easier to review your existing policy and evaluate how adequate its coverage is. 

If you choose to buy a new policy, it will also help you choose the right level of coverage there.  

Take Basic Safety Precautions 

Take a few minutes to review safety tips and practices with your student when they move into their student housing each semester. Make sure that:

  • Window and door locks are in proper working order
  • Lighting and other safety features are in proper working order
  • Secondary locks such as padlocks or bike locks are available to safeguard high-cost items 

These small steps can significantly reduce the likelihood of theft and loss no matter what type of coverage you have. 

Choosing With Confidence

Once you know what level of coverage you need and how much your homeowners’ policy covers, you’ll be able to confidently decide if renters insurance is right for you. If it is, let us help you find the policy and coverage you need today. 

Student Life

How to Manage Your Time While Studying Online

December 26, 2020

Online learning definitely has its perks, including no commuting, flexibility, and studying at your own pace . But since there’s little to no authority, the responsibility of sticking to your schoolwork is solely yours. You can only make it work with proper management skills.

If you’re an online scholar and find it hard to manage your time, this piece is for you. Here are eight tips on time management for learners pursuing online courses.

Designate Space for All Your Learning Tasks

A common challenge online students encounter is finding a suitable place for studying, classes, and group discussions. As a result, allocating time for studying and actually focusing can be difficult. You need a conducive environment for studying- whether in the house, at a café, or even local library.

Study space will help develop the proper mindset and actually focus. Also, ensure that you have the required software, a strong internet connection and power outlets nearby.

Don’t forget these important features of your study space:

  • Well lit
  • Clutter-free
  • Comfortable
  • Away from noise or disturbances

Plan Your Week Ahead

The flexibility that comes with online studying also bears a cost. If you are not disciplined, you won’t accomplish anything. Your regular schedule outside of schoolwork can take the majority of your days if you let it. That’s why you need to take charge of your commitments by planning. Set aside time ahead for reading, participating in group discussions, and tackling assignments.

If you need help, such as from a college essay editor, engage one early not to miss a deadline. Also, go through your schoolwork and figure out how you can prioritize. Some tasks will require more time, while others won’t. You’ll make better use of your time if you assess your syllabus to determine when you will work on particular tasks.

Use a planner and write down things like:

  • Assignment deadlines: paper drafts and submission copies
  • Virtual classes and meetups with educators and academic counselors
  • Other academic activities: group discussions, networking meetups, etc.

Devise a Routine Using a Schedule

When it comes to online learning, there’s usually no such thing as a routine. This freedom that comes with studying asynchronously online can sometimes lead to procrastination and laziness. Therefore, it falls upon you to develop a daily routine for tackling assignments and studying for your units. Start with making a daily schedule and to-do list and try to be consistent about following it.

Break Up Your Coursework

Some courses and even assignment might seem intimidating at first glance. And, you may be hard-pressed when scheduling them within your tight schedule. An excellent tip to managing your time and accomplishing things is to break up your coursework. Check what you’ve got to cover and break it down into sizeable parts that you can cover at different times.

Come Up with a Work-Life-Study Balance

You need to formulate an excellent work-study program, especially if you’ve got to attend online learning sessions and still show up at work. To develop a well-balanced plan that keeps you from wearing down, arrange your time to focus on these three essentials- school, job, and your personal life.

Go for a simple schedule that is easy to follow. And remember to pay utmost attention to every area of life at each moment.

Overcome the Urge to Multitask

Refrain from multitasking when studying online. Often, doing this undermines your productivity, making the learning process ineffective. Always focus on a single study activity at any given moment, for example, revising for a test, reading a section in a book, or attending a Skype appointment.

How do you plan your undertakings to avoid multitasking? To overcome this habit, many people recommend that you plan your activities according to importance. The first 3 or 4 time-sensitive and important tasks should come at the top of your list. Feel free to use various project management tools to enhance your focus.

Get Enough Rest & Start Your Day Early

Do you get enough rest? Do you wake up early? As a student, you need always to be well-rested and, better yet, an early riser to make the most out of your academic pursuits. How can you achieve both of these? To get enough rest and still wake up early, you must get to bed early and ensure that you get some quality sleep.

Today, many online programs allow for much flexibility, making it quite easy to extend your day well into the night to accommodate various activities. While this might seem ideal initially, this habit often wears down even the most hardworking of learners. Without enough rest, your memory and learning capabilities are undermined.

Stay ahead of your studies by getting a full night’s sleep throughout your online course. Try formulating a sleeping schedule that allows you to sleep for at least 8 hours each night and wake up around the same time each day.

Figure Out What Distracts You & Avoid it

What takes your attention when it’s study time? Whether it’s entertainment, social media, or a neighborhood gossip site, it’s best to identify and address it. Distractions tend to undermine the learning process by taking up your focus. As such, you can miss out on important concepts, making you waste a lot of time to understand.

If your distractions are on the internet, you could use website blockers such as KeepMeOut. Such tools will help you stay off social media or other platforms during study time.

Taking an online course remains an excellent idea for anyone who wishes to further their education. To make sure the process is as beneficial as possible, one must take command of the learning process right from the start. The tips in this article will go a long way in ensuring that your studying is effective.

Career

Tips for Writing a Killer Business Plan

December 22, 2020
Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Are you gearing up for the next phase of life after college and considering embarking upon a business venture? If you intend on taking it seriously, you will inevitably need a business plan. 

Your business plan is an important document and well worth your time and effort to perfect. When executed effectively, it has the power to paint a vivid picture of how your business will operate, the goals it will strive toward, and what ethos it will be driven by. 

Formatting your business plan 

There are two main styles that a business will choose when formatting their business plan:

Traditional business plan – This typically spans 12 or more pages incorporating detailed analyses, supporting documents, contracts, permits, licenses, credit histories and more. They take much more time to create upfront, but taking a deep dive into your business that leaves you with an extremely thorough outline can serve you well.

Lean startup business plan – One or two pages summarize the most important elements of your business strategy. This potentially covers all of the same sections as a traditional plan, but is more condensed to give overviews rather than elaborate analysis. 

Investors and lenders will typically prefer a traditional business plan, but if you expect the course of your business to undergo significant change, a lean startup business plan covering the fundamentals may suffice.

Whatever template you choose to create, you can use the following tips to ensure that you craft a solid and compelling plan to propel your business forward.

Keep it simple

Keeping it simple does not mean dumbing it down – but if your plan starts to waffle, you’ll quickly lose your reader’s interest. When it comes to business plans, more than many other forms of writing, you need to keep it sharp, concise and effective. Only use photos, graphs or charts that significantly enhance the reader’s understanding of your vision and ensure that your formatting makes your document even easier to navigate.

If writing isn’t your strong suit, consider hiring a writer or editor. You can find freelancers to help out with this on sites like UpWork or Fiverr. Just make sure you opt for high rated sellers with excellent reviews.

Work backwards

When creating a plan for a future vision, it can be helpful to reverse the process in your mind and draft your plan from there. For example, realistically consider where you would like your business to be financially after the first 12 months, and then work backwards. What goals would need to be achieved after six months? Three months? One month? Work these milestones into your draft and soon you will see your business plan taking logical shape.

Know your competition

Never speak negatively when referring to your competitors. Familiarize yourself with who they are and what they are doing both well and poorly, and, in your own business plan, outline how you will differentiate your brand from the rest. What will be your company’s unique selling point or proposition (USP)? Be sure to highlight whatever it is that sets you apart from the rest – unique approaches that have viability attract the attention of investors and show that you have thought this vital aspect of the business through.

Know your customer

Successful business plans demonstrate well thought out insights into their customers and a desire to truly understand their clients. What are their needs or problems they have that your business will solve? What is your target demographic? Who will be buying your product or service? Why do they need it? These insights lead to the all-important question – why will they pick you?

Outline your marketing plan clearly

It’s easy to have lofty dreams, but not so easy to drill down on exactly how those dreams will be achieved. A solid business plan demonstrates that the how-to has been carefully researched and considered, and that you have arrived at a series of specific steps that you will take to execute your vision. Where and how will you market? What will you offer and to who? How will you generate new customer leads? How exactly will you entice consumers away from the competition?

Be realistic 

It’s great to dream big, but remember to keep your immediate plans within realistic parameters. Don’t overestimate your revenue forecast or inflate your financials. Do your research and position yourself with confidence, not naivety or arrogance. What will you offer and how much will you charge? What do comparable businesses charge for similar products or services? Keep your projections realistic to cultivate trust with your reader and be sure that the financial information you share is rooted in solid facts.

There are thousands of online resources at your disposal when it comes to crafting a winning business plan – we’ve just highlighted some key points. Be ambitious, yet realistic. Demonstrate care and research regarding customer insights. Speak respectfully but confidently when analyzing your business in comparison to others. Back your claims up. And importantly, once you’ve collated your business plan’s content, deliver it in a concise, sharp style. Get to the point whilst infusing just the right amount of passion to drive your intentions home. Good luck!

Safety Student Life

Protecting Your Apartment From Winter Weather

December 21, 2020

Snow may look great outside your home, but you should make sure you know how to deal with it if it ever gets out of control or threatens your safety.

Here are a few quick tips to make sure you’re safe at home for the rest of the winter, especially if there’s a storm:

One basic way to protect your home or apartment from snow is shoveling. Buy a medium-sized shovel and make sure that walkways and sidewalks are completely clear after a storm. Shoveling helps you and your neighbors stay safe from black ice and other post-snowstorm dangers. It’s also a smart idea to use salt on any walkways to help melt ice quickly. As always, be careful while you’re out there clearing things up! Inside, make sure to have welcome mats so everyone can clean off their boots before entering, and eliminate tracking water into the house that could lead to slips and falls. You don’t want to be liable for any injuries at home!

Another way to keep your place safe and sound during a storm is by checking up on the heat. During a storm, there’s always a chance that you may lose power. Be sure to keep the heat running—keep yourself and your roommates warm just in case! If your heat does not appear to be working properly, be sure to talk to your landlord ASAP—don’t get stuck in the cold during a storm.

One thing tenants may forget about is ice buildup in unusual places. For example, ice can freeze and accumulate at a rapid rate in your downspout or other exposed pipes. If enough snow builds up in the pipes, there could be disastrous results. Make sure to check with neighbors, roommates and landlords to be sure that your pipes stay ice-free, especially after a big blizzard.

An important snow safety tip for your apartment is be prepared. If a big snowstorm is in the future, make sure you’ve taken care of everything ahead of time at home. Be sure to keep blankets and flashlights out in the open in case your heat or power goes out. If it looks like a blizzard could last for days at a time, stock up on plenty of food and household essentials like soap and toilet paper, just in case you won’t be able to get to the grocery store for while. If you have a car, put it in the garage or an area where it won’t get snowed in.

If you’re not sure about the state of your apartment for the rest of the winter, talk to your landlord to discuss any concerns. It’s important that you’re 100% sure your place will be safe during a storm or blizzard—peace of mind is key during the wintertime. Also, consider renters insurance to help cover your personal belongings and protect what’s important in your home in the event of an accident.

Stay safe for the rest of the winter! Spring is just around the corner!

This article was originally published in 2012 and has since been updated.

Student Life

11 Tips to Maximize Your College Experience

December 15, 2020

Headed off to college? That means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get the most out of your college experience (and we don’t mean just friends, football games, and all-nighters). The goal is to graduate from college in a way that’s life-changing. Here are eleven tips to get started. 

1. Meaningfully participate in extracurricular activities

The students who get the most of their college experience are the ones who get involved in ways that spark their interest and passion. This doesn’t just mean sports but also includes music, theater, leadership, volunteering, or other activities. If you’re planning on retiring from your primary high school skill, choose a new one before you get to college. 

2. Live on campus 

You have the rest of your life to live off campus. When you live on campus, you put yourself right in the middle of the action and energy of college. Let other people fight over electricity bills and the dishes. 

3. Leave your car at home. 

If you live on campus, it’s easier to leave your car at home. Not only does it save you a few thousand dollars a year on insurance and maintenance, but you also don’t have to worry about finding parking on campus or its corresponding fees, like a parking ticket. 

4. Get a bike

A bike is a great college alternative to a car. You save time and money because you can bike up to your classes, park, and lock. Plus it’s a great way to avoid that Freshman Fifteen! 

5. Take small classes

Do what you can to take small classes. This might mean moving to advanced classes sooner or taking less-popular majors. If you are only an observer in your classes instead of an active participant, you’ll miss out on the full college experience.

6. Learn from the great professors

Find out who the life-changing professors are and take the classes they teach. Look on professor review websites or ask upperclassmen. Taking classes from outstanding professors who are passionate about their subjects can have a huge impact on your life. 

7. Continue to apply for financial aid. 

While most financial aid is given to first-year students, there is typically money withheld for second year and beyond. Once you choose your major, ask professors about potential scholarships, and keep applying for private aid.

8. Try to only work a job during vacation and on weekends. 

If possible, don’t work more than 10-12 hours a week during the semester. Minimize the time spent at a job so you can maximize the time focused on schoolwork and college activities. 

9. Take classes that prepare you for life. 

By taking classes like art history, accounting, and computer coding, you’ll be at home in museums, prepared with the basics to run your own business, and have a foundational understanding of web development. College is the last time you can indulge in extensive education without also juggling a full-time job.

10. Get bilingual by graduation. 

Knowing two (or more languages) makes you more hireable, putting you ahead of the average applicant. Spend a semester and a summer abroad, or even a whole year, to learn a language.

11. Fill out the FAFSA each year. 

Many students will do all they can to qualify for financial aid before they go to college. But many don’t realize their parents need to complete the FAFSA every October. 

College is a great opportunity to learn new things and have life-changing experiences. Make the most of it with these tips! What else have you done to maximize your experience in college?

Health

Protecting Against Mental and Physical Fatigue in College

December 11, 2020

Pursuing an education was already a draining proposition before COVID-19 temporarily rewrote the playbook. Now, learning online, in a socially distanced classroom, or via a hybrid of these two options, has become downright exhausting.

As a student, it’s important to take extra precautions to protect yourself from the additional fatigue this can create. Here are a few recommendations for various ways to protect both your mind and your body from the added stress that comes with schooling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Identify Your Social Support Network

Research regarding lockdown fatigue amongst college students has shown that one of the most important factors to success had to do with social support. Those who perceived a higher social support experience tended to fair better in confinement and lockdowns.

With that in mind, it’s critical that you maintain a solid social support network throughout your time in college. This is particularly challenging during a pandemic. Fortunately, we live in the 21st-century, and there is a plethora of alternative forms of communication that can be used to remain connected to your social network (i.e. your close friends and family), including:

  • Phone calls.
  • Text messages.
  • Social media.
  • Video chats.
  • Email.
  • Handwritten letters.

As you go through school, remain in close contact with your social support network at all times. This can help you identify, process, and address fatigue when it arises.

Consider Your Home Study Setup

One of the most obvious physical barriers to overcome is maintaining your physical health when you’re endlessly studying in lockdown. The need to do homework and attend virtual classes can keep you strapped to your desk and staring at a screen for countless hours every day. You can mitigate the undesirable physical effects that this causes by:

Maintaining your physical condition and endurance can help you remain at the top of your game while you learn from the homefront.

Fight the Mental Battle Daily

Finally, it’s important to make a proactive effort to fight for your mental health. This isn’t a one time deal, but a consistent task that must be tended to on a daily basis.

Letting things like stress go unattended can lead to a variety of different symptoms that can impact your ability to study and learn. This includes things like listening and communication problems, speech issues, developing depression and anxiety, and even poor motor skills. Fight back by:

  • Silencing your inner critic and staying positive.
  • Eating, sleeping, and exercising regularly and in healthy quantities.
  • Maintaining communication with your school’s counseling center.
  • Leaning on your social support network.
  • Meditating daily.
  • Unplugging from your devices when you’re not studying or attending classes.

By taking steps to preserve your mental health, you can ensure that you’re in the best state of mind as you tend to your studies.

Guarding Your Mind and Body

Your educational journey was always meant to be busy. Classes, homework, and exams were going to leave you feeling drained, regardless of the circumstances.

Nevertheless, the unique situation that the coronavirus has created has made it more important than ever to take steps to proactively protect your mind and body from fatigue. So build that social network, perfect your home-study situation, and keep fighting the battle for your mental health every day. Above all, regularly remind yourself that this too shall pass.

Keep your chin up! We’ll all get through this together.

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.