Browsing Tag

college student success

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.

Student Life Uncategorized

How to Find Your Perfect Study Spot

August 15, 2019

As a college student, it is important to figure out how to effectively study. This is a crucial aspect of finding success in college. There are many options for places to study on and off-campus and it is helpful to figure out what works best for you. Here are some options to consider when looking for your perfect study spot:

The Library

This is a classic option for students who are seeking a quiet place to study. Your school’s library may contain different areas for those who prefer different levels of silence. The library may also have different resources such as tutoring and study rooms available to students. This is a great option for many students but is far from the only place on campus to study.

The Student Union

This is a great option for students who are looking for a more lively place to study. If you prefer more background noise this may be the place for you. If you go to your student union, there will most likely be many tables, chairs, and couches for you to study at. Your student union likely gets very busy, so you may have to figure out the best time for you to go. One downside to this study spot is that it may be distracting if you run into lots of people that you know and are easily caught up in conversation. 

Your Dorm Room

This spot can be a hit or miss depending on your situation. If you have a roommate this may not be the best option. It can also be an issue if you are studying on your bed and not a desk as you may be more prone to falling asleep. If you desire privacy when studying this may be a good choice. This may also be a good option on days when you are feeling sick or don’t have the energy to leave your dorm. 

A Local Coffee Shop

A coffee shop is a great choice for students who have a desire to study somewhere off-campus. Depending on your location, there may be many choices near campus. It can be fun to explore your area and hunt for the best local coffee shops. Many students find it helpful to go off campus to study in order to better concentrate and find motivation.

Outside

When the weather is nice, it could be a great change of pace to study amongst nature. Find some friends and scope out a nice patch of grass on campus or travel to a local park to soak up some sun. Be careful when studying outside because although it may be a good option for some it could be distracting for others. 

Throughout the semester, it could be helpful to try out different locations to figure out what works best for you before finals season begins. There are many options that extend beyond this list that may be available to you depending on your college. Have a fun time testing out different study spots and studying strategies

Check out GradGuard for more information on how to make the most out of your college experience and follow us on social media @gradguard to stay up to date on new information.

Career Uncategorized

Top 5 Ways to Save Money After College

August 12, 2019

There are 3.6 million college graduates living in poverty, and that is to be expected given factors such as student loans and other college-related debt along with the difficulties one might experience when obtaining a job in their field or the starting wages at these jobs.

Creating a Budget

You likely hear this all the time, but creating a budget is the first step to saving money, especially as you start paying back student loans or other debts. Right now you’re probably getting notifications that you need to start paying off your loans, having to move out of student housing, and basically this whole being-an-adult-thing is about to get a lot harder!

You can do this though! And the first step is creating that budget. It doesn’t need to be fancy. You can even use a free template on Excel or Google Docs. Make sure to carefully document all sources of income and all expenses, even the ones you might want to ignore. If you’re not sure where to start on paying your student loan debt, there are great calculators and resources available.

Saving $$$ on Food

Don’t worry, you don’t have to eat ramen the rest of your life — although there are some fun ways to spice up that cost-effective meal! But a good chunk of your expenses may be coming from food. Apps like Mint actually track how you spend your money and you might be surprised to see how often you eat out or how much those “treat yourself” items at the grocery store are costing you. A great way to avoid those last-minute splurges is making yourself a meal plan with a shopping list, allowing yourself only one spur-of-the-moment item.

Meal planning isn’t just for being healthy, although that can be a great perk, it’s great for time management and budgeting. Simple, cheap meal plans will help you save without living off rice, beans, and ramen!

Cut Back on Utility Bills

A lot of us may have had the luxury of free or discounted internet and TV while living in student housing, but now that we’ve graduated, we’re having to deal with these bills on our own. A great way to cut down bills is to really examine what you need: Do you really watch cable or do you watch Netflix or Hulu? You might even be able to cut down on your internet speeds. An internet connection with 5mbps, though not ideal, is enough to stream and browse the internet.

Getting Married? Don’t Worry!

And then there’s the biggest expense of all—marriage! If you’re one of those ‘lucky’ ones about to make the big commitment dive into marriage, you’re probably stressed about a long list of expenses ranging from booking a venue, the cost of a wedding dress, and all the things that come after. What if you don’t get the things you need most on your registry? And if you’re the one getting to propose, you might be worried about the cost of a ring. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that complicated!

There is even a list of venues that won’t cost an arm and a leg. And if you’re still looking for that special ring you might consider an eternity band that offers special financing and a wide array of options for various budgets.

Creating Long-Term Goals and Building Credit

Two of the most important things to consider after graduating from college are your long-term goals and how you’re going to obtain them. One of the biggest factors for obtaining our long-term goals (such as buying a house) is building your credit. There are important factors to pay attention to when building your credit, such as staying on top of your student loan payments, credit card usage, and ways to avoid negative marks are your credit. There are also options for credit repair if you’re already suffering from negative items on your credit report.

Whatever your goals may be, there are many paths to take, even when you’re fresh out of college and still sorting everything out. If you start saving now and planning for those special life plans, there’s nothing you can’t achieve! 

 For more tips on being smart with your money, check out more of our blogs and follow us on social media!

BIO: Brett has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Career Uncategorized

How to Get the Most Out of Your School’s Career Fair

August 9, 2019

With undergraduates and graduates returning back to school, career fairs will start to occur at numerous universities and colleges. Whether you’re a freshman, a senior or a graduate student, career fairs are the perfect opportunity to help find yourself the right internship and/or job. As every student likely wants to make the best impression possible, here are some tips on how to do just that. 

Dress the Part

The first and most important thing when attending a career fair is to look presentable while there. If you’re dressed nicely, put together and professionally, companies will take notice. The same will go if you’re dressed down and wearing sweatpants or any unprofessional clothing. If you look like you don’t care, prospective employers will think just that. By no means do you have to wear your finest clothing, but putting together a nice outfit can only help when attending a career fair. If the career fair is happening during your classes, dress ahead of time so you can just pop over to the career fair once you’re finished with classes for the day or have a break in between. Along with making sure you have the right outfit, you’ll also want to have the right beauty look to go with it. By no means should you go heavy on the makeup. When in a professional setting, many find that less is more. Applying an everyday beauty look to go along with your outfit will make you feel as confident as ever. If your hair is in need of a refresh before the career fair, use a hair mask or revive with a high-quality hair color that will give you head-turning locks.

Be Open to Every Company That’s There

While you may have a field of interest in mind of what you’d like your career to be in, it’s most beneficial to be open to all the opportunities presented to you at a career fair. Whether it’s finance, marketing, engineering, etc., the kinds of jobs available are endless. Even if you see a table that may not be in your exact area of expertise, stop by to check it out anyway and see what kind of opportunities are available. You never know what you might come across or what might pique your interest. 

Be Prepared 

When attending a career fair, it’s only natural to engage in conversation with any table you approach. In order to make sure you make the best impression possible, it’s helpful to be prepared ahead of time. Not only do you want to make sure you have a handful of copies of your perfected resume but you also want to make sure you’re prepared to answer any questions that may come your way and have perfected your elevator pitch, otherwise known as your career pitch. “What kind of past work experience do you have?”, “Why would you want to work for a company like this?”, and “Are you interested in relocating?” are only some of the questions that will likely be asked at a career fair. Having prepared answers and a career pitch stating some of your biggest strengths will only help and show your potential employer that you’ve thought seriously about your future. 

Follow-Up 

Following-up is one of the most important and often most forgotten things to do after attending a career fair. Following-up with recruiters or the companies you’re interested in is an amazing way to show your professionalism, your interest and to ensure they keep you in mind for any future openings. After each table you attend, make sure you get contact info in the form of a business card, phone number or email of the company and/or direct recruiter as this will make following-up incredibly easy. Sending a note or an email thanking them for the time they spent talking to you will be much appreciated and will give you an edge that will be hard for others to beat. 

For more tips on entering the workforce check out more of our blog posts and follow us on social media!

Transition Uncategorized

84% of State Insurance Commissioners Recommend College Students Consider Renters Insurance

July 31, 2019

Over the last decade that GradGuard has worked to protect college students and their families, we’ve tracked the guidance that state insurance commissioners provide regarding the value of renters insurance.

Starting in 2013, 28 insurance commissioners suggested college students consider renters insurance. In 2019, 42 insurance commissioners made such a recommendation. 

The 150% growth in recommendations is likely a result of the real financial losses students experience while living both on and off-campus. In fact, an analysis of campus safety and crime data provided by more than 6,000 schools Clery Act reports, reveals an average of more than 37,000 campus crime and safety incidents. Furthermore, on average 1,726 fires are reported in on-campus student housing.

States Recommended Renters Insurance
Alabama – AL Yes
Alaska – AK Yes
Arizona – AZ Yes
Arkansas – AR Yes
California – CA Yes
Colorado – CO Yes
Connecticut – CT Yes
Delaware – DE Yes
Florida – FL No
Georgia – GA Yes
Hawaii – HI No
Idaho – ID Yes
Illinois – IL Yes
Indiana – IN Yes
Iowa – IA Yes
Kansas – KS Yes
Kentucky – KY No
Louisiana – LA Yes
Maine – ME Yes
Maryland – MD Yes
Massachusetts – MA Yes
Michigan – MI Yes
Minnesota – MN Yes
Mississippi – MS Yes
Missouri – MO Yes
Montana – MT Yes
Nebraska – NE Yes
Nevada – NV No
New Hampshire – NH Yes
New Jersey – NJ Yes
New Mexico – NM Yes
New York – NY Yes
North Carolina – NC Yes
North Dakota – ND Yes
Ohio – OH Yes
Oklahoma – OK Yes
Oregon – OR Yes
Pennsylvania – PA Yes
Rhode Island – RI Yes
South Carolina – SC Yes
South Dakota – SD Yes
Tennessee – TN Yes
Texas – TX No
Utah – UT Yes
Vermont – VT No
Virginia – VA No
Washington – WA Yes
West Virginia – WV No
Wisconsin – WI Yes
Wyoming – WY Yes

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

1.    If you can’t afford to replace your backpack, bicycle or computer – Renters insurance may be able to 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 it would cost for you to replace your property. 

3.    If you can’t afford to pay for damages you cause – True renter’s insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

Students can protect their belongings against losses for about 50 cents a day.

“That makes renters insurance a must-have consideration for college families,” John Fees, the co-founder of GradGuard said. “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.”

This article was updated in July 2020

Career Uncategorized

Gen Z is in the Building: What New Employees are Looking for in the Workplace

July 22, 2019

Born between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z is just starting the process of graduating and entering the workforce. While we’re well aware of what millennials value in the workplace, a whole new understanding of what Gen Z individuals want, and how they work, is imperative. Early research has shown that this generation appreciates a social, flexible yet professional work culture. If your company doesn’t plan to adjust its culture to prepare for these young professionals, you run the risk of losing out on their creative ideas and fresh insights. 

What can your company do to attract new Gen Z employees?

Implement Flexible Working Arrangements

Gen Z most craves the ability to work from anywhere and outside of traditional 9–5 hours. While they value hard work, friends, travel, and fitness are also very important to this group, so they often seek jobs that offer a healthy work-life balance. Gen Z feels that work shouldn’t get in the way of personal activities and don’t want to use their PTO for anything other than vacation, such as appointments.

To make it as easy as possible for your employees to find the work-life balance they want, consider adopting a remote or flexible work arrangement. This allows your workers to choose what hours they work and where they work them from. While this idea seems scary at first, remember that modified variations of this policy are possible. Also, modern technology allows your employees to get just as much work done from home as the office. As long as they have internet access, your workers can even communicate with customers by utilizing Voice over Internet Protocol phone systems. VoIP hosts phone signals through cloud servers, which means that your workers can connect with others through any device with internet access.

Provide Social Opportunities

Many young professionals rank having a social work environment as extremely important and specifically seek companies that provide it. These individuals, therefore, value office activities and social events that provide them with an opportunity to mingle with their coworkers. While this might seem like a way to invite distractions into your business, social environments actually encourage collaboration and communication, which can help your company work more efficiently.

Reports have shown that it’s important to Gen Z to bond with their coworkers. To help give them this social environment they so crave, provide an array of different events for coworkers to mingle. These events should include office-wide activities during work hours, mentoring programs, planning speaker series’ for young professionals, and hosting social and volunteer events. This way, employees with families or other obligations after-hours have many different opportunities to attend and be included.

Gen Z may already be in the building so to speak—especially when you’re looking to hire entry-level positions and/or interns—so the time to educate and prepare for them is now. Make the effort to learn what separates this incoming generation from their older counterparts and cater your company to be a place they want to be!

Check out more of our blogs about navigating the workforce and follow us on social media to stay up to date. GradGuard strives to make you feel protected throughout your college experience.

Health Uncategorized

4 Summer Activities to Help You Recharge

July 22, 2019

As a college student, you have undergone through stressful situations for the last several months dealing with assignments, term papers, thesis, and research papers. The increased academic work, coupled with continuous assessment tests has taken a toll on your body. An extended summer to refresh is just what is needed. If you are already wondering what to do, here are some exciting activities you can incorporate to destress. 

Cruise Vacations

Cruises are a great way to explore unique destinations while spending some time on the water. There are several cruise vacations to look into this summer, and you can choose the one that fits your tastes and preferences. Most of them move south from Florida heading to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands. Cruise vacations in Europe and Africa are an option as well. 

Volunteering

Volunteering is another option that allows you to refresh and see the world in another perspective. It is not all about spending hundreds of hours of accumulating knowledge. You need to get in touch with reality as well. You can volunteer in many ways, depending on your tastes and preferences and financial capacity as well. You may choose to spend some time with the seniors in the nearby senior facility and listen to their side of the stories. You can also choose to travel farther away from home and volunteer in environmental conservation strategies. 

Athletics

Physical fitness is a great summer activity. There are many opportunities to get involved with a sports team or another form of athletics. This allows you to exhaust yourself physically after a lengthy period of exhausting your mind and adding some pounds. Scientists indicate that there is a direct relationship between body fitness and critical thinking so you can be sure that you will return to college sharp and ready to solve those equations. 

African Game Drive

For hundreds of years, Africa has been the ultimate game drive destination for any person from the United States or Europe. Africa has bumpy roads and remote countryside where you can meet several native communities that have preserved their culture and traditions. A game drive in East Africa allows you to enjoy the Rift-Valley, lakes, some of the tallest mountains, and the big five animals in the world. Africa has direct sun throughout the year and unexploited coastal beaches along the Indian Ocean coastline. 

Cruise vacations, East African game drive, athletics, and volunteering are examples of great summer activities you can choose to refresh your mind after several months of college work. These activities from GradGuard are guaranteed to give you a memorable experience. However, it is essential to choose what works for you, depending on your tastes and preferences.

BIO: Brett has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Student Life Uncategorized

Do Your Homework Before You Buy Your Books

July 22, 2019

You’ve probably heard every college student out there complain about having to buy books. You can’t really blame them though; buying books for one semester can cost hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars. Here are a few tips to help you avoid wasting money on books.

Don’t buy any books before the first day of class. This might sound crazy, but it will save you a lot of money. Every class has a “required” book list, which leads students to believe they need to have every book on the list. This is not true! Go to the first day of class and ask the professor (or the TA) how much the book will be used. They might say that you will only have one or two assignments out of the book all year or that the reading from the book is optional. Most of the time, however, the professor will probably reinforce that the book is “required,” but it still might not be true.

Talk to someone who has taken the course. Find someone who has taken the course and ask them. They will know better than anyone if you really need the $300 Introduction to Philosophy book that you are never going to read again. Students who have already taken the course will be your best resource in knowing if you actually need the books on your list. 

*Note: if someone tells you that you don’t need a book for a class and they are on academic probation, they may not be the best source of information. Talk to someone who did well in the class.

Unfortunately, there are some books that you will need; there will be no way to do well in the class without them. You can still avoid wasting money if you play it smart.

Buy/rent from Amazon or another online site. You should probably never buy a book from your university bookstore. It will be overpriced, and the store will give you very little money if you resale to them at the end of the semester. The exact book you need can easily be located online using the ISBN number. It is very rare that you won’t be able to find the book you are looking for on Amazon, Redshelf, or some other site. If it is cheaper to rent than buy, always rent (especially when dealing with textbooks). You’re never going to even think about opening your Econometrics book after the semester is over. It won’t happen. You can rent a digital version that you can access on your computer or a hard copy that gets mailed to you. 

Consider buying an older edition of the textbook. There may be a class that will require the 6th edition of the textbook. However, the 5th edition will be nearly identical to the 6th edition and will be much more affordable. As long as major changes weren’t made to the text, you will be fine buying older versions of the textbook. This is something you can check with people who have taken the course. You are not the first student that has attempted to use the 5th edition instead of the 6th. Find someone who did and see how they fared. 

The only thing worse than buying expensive books is buying expensive books you don’t need. Or that you could have rented for much less. Do your homework before you buy your books, follow these tips from GradGuard, and you will save thousands of dollars during your time in college.

Transition Uncategorized

Three College Surprises to Avoid

July 11, 2019

Given the amount of work I have done with colleges and universities over the past twenty years, I am often asked by parents for advice. Most recently, parents I speak with are particularly concerned about the cost of college and campus safety. Here are a few of the most common questions that I receive and my response to them:

  1. Do You Have a FERPA Consent? FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974) was designed to protect the privacy of educational records and to establish the rights of students to inspect and review their educational records. Even if you support your student financially, the college or university will not have any obligation to share student information with you unless you have the consent of your student. College Parents of America recommends that all families discuss this topic and have a plan for dealing with student information.
  2. Does Your School Provide 100% Refunds? If your student is forced to withdraw from school due to an unexpected illness or injury, there’s a high possibility that your university will not provide a refund of the tuition that you paid that semester. In this case, you could lose thousands of dollars in non-refundable tuition and fees. GradGuard Tuition Insurance can help refund those costs that your university is not reimbursing you. Note that different plans are offered in different states and vary for price and coverage, but purchasing a plan is smart to consider nonetheless. Be sure you know your school’s refund policy and remember that tuition insurance must be purchased prior to the start of classes for your chosen term.
  3. Is Campus Crime a Bigger Deal Than Reported? Colleges and universities are required to disclose annual campus crime and safety statistics through the Clery Report. Note that your university probably doesn’t reimburse students for stolen or damaged property. Not to mention if your student causes damage to their residence hall; in that instance, you will likely get stuck with a bill for the damage at the end of the year. With all this in mind, you will want to consider GradGuard College Renters Insurance. Evaluate the benefits of a low-deducible insurance policy, with worldwide personal property coverage, and specifically designed for students all for an average of $15 a month; there should be no argument!

Bottom line; no one likes to be surprised.

It’s true that some families are able to replace stolen property or pay for an extra semester of college if their student is forced to withdraw for medical reasons, but why would you want to? Especially if this is your students first year at college, you will seriously want to consider both tuition and renters insurance from GradGuard.

The GradGuard team is focused on our mission to help protect the investment in higher education that college families make. Over the years we have developed some keen insights into the risks facing college students.

We have worked on many products to help colleges protect their students from risks that may disrupt their education. College is a great investment, but it’s worth remembering that only 19% of 4-year bachelor degree students graduate in 4 years. Name another large investment/purchase that has such an uncertain outcome. When it comes down to it, don’t be surprised if an unexpected event delays your student’s graduation and be prepared in case it does. GradGuard has your back and wants to help when we can. Visit our website today for more information.

Health Uncategorized

Top 3 Reasons College Tuition Insurance Is a Smart Decision

July 11, 2019

When college families and their students are discussing college, the topic of money always comes up in the conversation. For good reason too! Did you know that the combination of tuition, fees and room and board charges average between $20,000-$50,000 a year?

For many college families, the expense of a higher education is one of the largest investments they will make. Since there is so much money at stake, we suggest that college parents make a plan in case their student is forced to withdraw from school due to severe injury or illness. Of course, if you are one of the few families out there that can afford to lose your large investment, then tuition insurance may not be necessarily needed for you.

However, for most of the twenty million college students and their families, the financial loss of an entire college semester is a burden big enough to break the bank. As a result, college families are smart to consider the purchase of tuition insurance prior to the start of the school semester.

3 Reasons Tuition Insurance is a Smart Decision

  1. If you can’t afford to lose the tuition paid for a semester at school – Tuition insurance can provide up to 100% refund of your expenses in the instance that a student gets severely ill or injured; it can also help cover the costs needed to get back on your feet in the event of needing to withdrawal.
  2. If your school does not provide a 100% refund – Do you know what your school’s refund policy is? A majority of school refund policies do not extend beyond the fifth week of the semester, and many don’t refund the full cost after the start of classes. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is so you can see how much of your money is at risk.
  3. If you have additional academic expenses – Even if the school does provide you with a 100% refund for tuition, most schools do not refund academic fees or student housing. Many tuition insurance plans can provide coverage for academic fees and student housing in addition to tuition.

Student health incidents like illnesses, accidents, and injuries happen frequently, even to young and healthy college students. The good news is that college families can protect their investment by purchasing tuition insurance! Visit our website at www.gradguard.com/tuitioninsurance to see the plans available on your campus!