Browsing Tag

dorm life

Adulting Uncategorized

Decorating Your Dorm Room on a Budget

June 15, 2018

If you are headed to college, you know all about the expenses that come along with heading back to school. Tuition, fees, housing, books, food and more all add up significantly.

Decorating your dorm room can be one place where you can reduce your costs and save your money for other expenses. The college or university likely provides a bed, desk, and a small dresser. Often times the space is rather drab, leaving it up to you to spruce it up to suit your style.


First off, you need comfortable bedding including sheets, pillowcases, and a quilt or comforter set. College students aren’t known for getting a lot of rest, but you will need bedding more than anything for your dorm room. In smaller dorm rooms, your bed takes up most of your space and will likely double as your seating area so you will want to find some high-quality bed linens.

The standard size for most dorm room beds is twin extra long. A comfortable Twin XL comforter set with a stylish print or with textured ruffles is the perfect piece to focus your décor theme around. These bedding sets are likely to be your biggest expense when decorating your dorm room, but you don’t want to skimp on quality here to save a buck.

Indoor Potted Plants

When you are stuck in your dorm room working on a term paper, you will appreciate the fresh air from your Pothos, Rubber Tree, or Spider Plant. They can also be purchased at a reasonable price from your local nursery. Having an indoor plant is a great way to create a focal point in your dorm room, add color to your space, or simply freshen up the place.

Wall Decor

The best place to save money on your dorm décor is in wall art. Shop thrift stores for some great vintage looks, such as large decorative mirrors or paintings. Or, create your own more contemporary pieces with a few DIY projects over the summer break. You can take your favorite t-shirts and turn them into a tapestry or some of your photos and create a collage.

Throw Pillows & Blankets

Decorative throw pillows and blankets are among the least expensive items you can add to your dorm room. They don’t just look good; they add functionality to your space. The pillows offer another place for you or your guests to rest your heads. The blanket will keep you warm on your couch or computer chair when you’re not quite ready for bed. Should you wish to bring a little bit of home with you to campus, try asking one of your family members if they could teach you how to knit a quilt or sew a blanket. 

Remember, when it comes to budgeting for college, you will have to account for some hefty expenses. Decorating your dorm room doesn’t have to be one of them. Shop at second-hand stores and garage sales to find items at heavily reduced prices. Don’t forget to enjoy the experience! 

After you have property decorated your dorm room on a college budget, be sure that you protect it with the proper renters insurance! As one of the leading college renters insurance industries, GradGuard is committed to protecting your favorite belongings. Learn more about GradGuard Renters Insurance and visit our website today.

About the Author: Kim Foerst is currently the digital marketing manager for Lush Décor, a brand of Triangle Home Fashions. She has a passion for writing relevant content and, in addition to home decorating, has blogged about a wide range of topics from heavy machinery to healthcare.

Health Uncategorized

Ways to Survive on Little Slumber in College

June 5, 2018

Most students experience more work and less sleep when they get to college. In many instances, you’ll find yourself in a position where you must get up and go to class with as little as 3 to 4 hours sleep the night before.

So, what do you do to function on little to no sleep? Here are a few tips.


There is a reason why there are many coffee shops and stands near or around campus. College students devour lots of caffeine. Coffee is a great pick me up in the morning and during all-nighters.

The caffeine in coffee helps you stay awake. It also makes you more alert. That’s because it contains chemicals that stimulate your brain. This allows you to concentrate better and feel less tired.

However, it has a downside as well. Caffeine can make you irritable and jittery. Additionally, consuming anything with caffeine late in the day may make it hard to fall asleep that night and lead to a consistently groggy sleep schedule. 

Take Power Naps

Sleep is one of the most important things for college students. Besides making you feel less tired, it also offers many other benefits. Some of these include better memory, improved focus, and concentration. All of which make you more productive and help you get better grades.

At the same time, getting shut-eye helps you make fewer mistakes. It also keeps your immune system healthy, so you don’t get sick and fall behind in any of your classes.

When it comes to napping, try keeping them under 30 minutes. This prevents you from waking up feeling groggy. They call them power naps for a reason! 


Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do when you feel tired. Ironically, it not only helps wake you up but also gives you more energy. This is thanks to the increased blood circulation and metabolism boost your body experiences when you move around.

Exercise also helps you sleep better at night so you can make the best out of the little slumber time that’s available to you.

Drink Lots of Water

Water, unlike caffeine, doesn’t give you any boost in energy. However, research shows that dehydration will make you feel more fatigued.

Between homework, project deadlines and rushing to classes in different buildings, you may forget to drink the recommended 2 liters of water daily. This can cause you to feel more tired than you usually do.


Of course, don’t forget to eat. Food is your main source of energy. It is what your body uses for fuel. Getting enough sustenance will allow your body and mind to function even when you’re short on sleep.

For energy, choose carbs and protein. But, skip refined carbs like white bread and potatoes. These give you a jolt of energy in the short term. But, you’ll also crash a few hours later. Instead, choose unrefined carbs like grains and oatmeal.

We hope these tips will help you maximize yourself on minimum sleep. To give you peace of mind when you do sleep, consider covering your personal belongings with GradGuard’s Renter’s Insurance. GradGuard is committed to keeping your mind at ease while you sleep knowing that you are protected by our renters insurance. Learn more about how you can get renters insurance through GradGuard by visiting our website.

About the Author: Emma Lymn is the editor of Health Grinder, a health and nutrition blog. She is passionate about helping others learn to eat healthily and lose weight. A proud mom of two kids and a very spoiled dog, she enjoys traveling and volunteering in her spare time.

Adulting Uncategorized

Roommate? More Like Room-Great!

May 22, 2018

Once the new school year approaches, students have so many things on their minds. Thoughts range from classes to clubs and from work to your favorite TV shows starting up again. Something that should be a breeze is finding a roommate for the year. Considering everyone has had both amazing roommates and horrific ones, this is either something to look forward to or absolutely dread. We’ve put together a few ways for everyone to win and become a better roommate.

Be mindful of the other person’s space.

Especially being in a dorm room, space is tight and there isn’t as much room as there was back home. Keeping things to yourself and on your side of the room helps with keeping things organized and maximizes the use of the shared space.

Try to establish a friendship with your roommate.

This may sound like a corny suggestion, but starting that friendship and having that comfort and connection with someone can really help with your living situation. You develop a new kind of respect for someone when you’re friends with them, and it also helps when solving any issues that arise because you are comfortable talking to them.

Clean up your stuff and contribute.

This is a big one particularly if you are living in an apartment or renting a house with a few other people. Your mom isn’t at college with you, so it’s super rude to assume that your roommate(s) will clean up after you and do all of the work around the house/apartment. Try creating a schedule for everyone and placing it in a common area so it is easily seen when someone is supposed to do the dishes/vacuum/sweep. This helps keep everyone accountable for their actions and realize that they do need to do their own part in helping everyone live happier in college. It’s stressful enough being there, do what you can to help make it easier for yourself and those around you.

Don’t eat your roommate’s food.

Just don’t do it. We know that the temptation can be there when you see something that you know your roommate hasn’t touched in 2 days, but just don’t do it. There are too many unnecessary fights that happen regarding this silly topic and too much hostility that can build up. Try establishing early-on with your roommate if you are okay sharing food or if you just want to be asked first. It’s really that simple. If you need help stocking your own mini fridge, check out these simple ways to eat healthy in a college setting

Respect your roommate.

This is such a basic topic, but it gets overlooked all the time. If your roommate has a big test in the morning and they are needing to get some sleep, don’t have people over listening to music and laughing until the wee hours of the morning. That’s just rude. Come up with those boundaries and don’t be afraid to say something. Your roommate(s) are probably nicer than you think.

Pay your portion of the bills.

This should be a no-brainer, but sadly it should be on the list. Remember when we said that your mom isn’t at college with you? This definitely falls under that. Do your part. It isn’t fair to stick one of your roommates with paying that $200 out of pocket electric bill because you “don’t want to pay it.” Hard news: no one wants to pay it, but if you want to keep the food in your fridge cold and your phone charged, it has to be done. You can use apps like Splitwise and Splitr to ensure that each roommate will pay their fair share of the bills. You can also try keeping a log of your finances and budget for each month. Do what you can to pay them your portion of the bills and do it on time. They likely don’t have the money to pay for all of it by themselves.

We hope these tips give you some insight on what makes you the best roommate possible. It’s really quite painless and you should take note that you just need to be kind, respectful, understanding, and of course be sure that you and your roommates have the proper renters insurance! Renters insurance is a staple when you are living with others and is very important to have. Learn more about the renters insurance offered by GradGuard by visiting our website today.

Safety Uncategorized

10 Crucial Campus Safety Tips

August 17, 2017

The yearly return to college each fall is an exciting and significant time for students, but it isn’t entirely without risks. This year, as classes beckon you back to campus, consider what you can do to ensure your own safety as well as that of others. September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month! Here’s a quick list to help you promote safety throughout your time at school.

Walk With Purpose

It’s no secret that anyone who appears to be new in town or otherwise unsure of themselves makes an easy target. Don’t be one of those people! Wherever you go, whether on campus or around town, be sure to walk with confidence and a purpose. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and don’t be afraid to excuse yourself from any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. Go with your gut: when it comes to your personal safety, you are your own greatest ally.

Be the Leader of the Pack

It’s an immutable law of nature: there’s safety in numbers. Traveling with friends is one of the best ways to keep yourself protected, particularly if you’re a young woman who may be at greater risk. This is of critical importance when attending social events or traveling in unlit areas. Whether on or off campus, attend events as part of a group and make a pact to look out for one another. Most importantly, never leave someone alone in a vulnerable or uncomfortable situation. If necessary, leave as a group and make other plans instead.

Be Social Media Savvy

Today our digital personas are just as real as our offline lives, and what happens on the Internet doesn’t necessarily stay there. So in the interest of safety, it’s best to keep the personal details to a minimum. First and foremost, be sure to disable location services so that no one can track your whereabouts as you post. Next, think twice before making any posts that include “sensitive” information. Over 80 percent of Internet-initiated crimes – crimes in which the criminal first identifies or tracks a target online – begin through social media, making your profiles excellent resources for any would-be criminals to find your location, daily routines and nearly anything else they might want to know.

“I’ll Be Back”

Whenever you venture out and about, make sure that someone knows where you’re going and when you expect to be back. It only takes a few moments to text friends or family members and inform them of your plans, and if something should ever go wrong, you’ll be glad that you did. If you don’t show up when and where you’re expected, having someone who can check in on you can make all the difference.

Do Your Research

Every campus has resources available to help keep you safe, but they aren’t of much use if you aren’t aware of them. Take some time to find out where your local campus safety or police station is located and be sure to save the phone number. Also familiarize yourself with any other useful services, such as psychological services and wellness centers. It’s also a good idea to locate any emergency phones and automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) on campus. A sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time, and people who are quickly treated with an AED are five times more likely to survive.

Take Advantage of Safety Technology

If you haven’t done so already, sign up to get campus text alerts sent directly to your phone. These alerts will help you stay abreast of any incidents on your campus and will provide valuable safety information if necessary. Additionally, consider downloading a personal safety app to turn your phone into a pocket-sized security guard. There are many options available, all with their own feature sets, but the general idea is the same: these apps provide a way to stay in touch with friends and family, alert them to your plans and location and even send emergency alerts if you’re in need of help.

Lock It Up

There are thousands of burglaries on college campuses each year, and many of them could be prevented with one simple step: lock your doors! Make sure your roommates also understand the importance of keeping your dorm locked up securely, and never give out a key to anyone else. If you live off campus, or in a sorority or fraternity house, consider installing a basic video surveillance system or doorbell camera. If an intruder sees they’re being watched it’s a powerful deterrent, and it’ll also allow you to remotely view any visitors – unwanted or otherwise – right from your phone or mobile device.

Be Skeptical of Unknown Substances

Whether you’re out partying hard or simply looking for some Tylenol for a headache, never trust pills, liquids or other substances unless you know exactly what they are. It’s always better to pass on someone’s offer rather than risk consuming a spiked drink, a dangerous drug or some other foreign substance. Similarly, never put your drink down at a house party or in a bar.

Get Defensive

Many campuses and community centers offer free self-defense classes, and they’re well worth your time. Even if you hope never to need it, knowing how to respond quickly and effectively in the event of a physical threat is potentially life-saving. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female – everyone could use a few tips from the experts, and if you witness potential acts of violence as a bystander this knowledge could help you prevent an assault from occurring.

Equip Yourself

There’s something to be said for preparing for the worst, and that’s exactly what personal defense items accomplish. Whether it’s a small canister of pepper spray or a safety whistle, it’s worth it for peace of mind to carry one or more non-lethal defense items with you when you’re out and about.

Whether you’re finishing your degree or shipping off to college for the first time, it’s important to make sure you’re properly prepared. With the simple tips above, you can feel confident in your ability to stay safe, protect yourself from whatever comes your way, and remember that GradGuard has your back!


Emma Bailey is a freelance writer and blogger based in Chicago, IL. A Midwest transplant from the state of California, she typically writes on the social justice issues that are closest to her heart. Her interests include kayaking, watching horror movies, and finding perfectly ripe avocados. You can find her on Twitter @emma_bailey90

Student Life Uncategorized

8 Pro Tips to Make Packing for College Easier

July 20, 2017

8 Pro Tips to Make Packing for College Easier

Move in time is exciting, but packing is a pain. Instead of trudging through another week of packing for college, use these tips to make the process easier. When you label your boxes and use a strategic packing plan, for example, you can prepare and move in quickly and efficiently.

Write a List & Take an Inventory

Organization is the key to make packing for college easier and that starts with a list. This is the best way to be both efficient and effective—without a list, you’re likely to miss odds and ends and have last-minute items that don’t have a box to fit into. If your college sent you a packing list, go off of that, otherwise, you can create your own or use our Ultimate College Packing List.  Take Inventory of all of your personal property so that you also have an idea of how much stuff you have that might need to be replaced if it is stolen or damaged.  This will make it easier to file an insurance claim.  And yes, be sure to consider purchasing GradGuard’s college renters insurance that has a low deductible and typically costs about fifty cents a day.

Use Labels

Labels make packing and unpacking easier. When packing, you know where to put extras and last-minute items. It’s even more helpful when unpacking if you label any box with essentials as Unpack First: “Rather than having to search through every box for your pillow cases to make your bed that first night back in the fall, refer to your inventory list so you’ll know exactly which box it’s in,” suggests experts at EZStorage.

Go Room by Room

While you won’t be packing more than one room for college, you will need items from the various rooms within your house. As such, this packing technique ensures that you get everything you need, from your laundry basket to a can opener and more.

Don’t Overpack

Heavy boxes are a pain to carry, load and unload. Instead, “Keep the weight of each box under 50 pounds. This will help you in packing and unpacking if boxes need to be moved around. It will also facilitate quicker loading and unloading,” suggest moving experts at Abba and Sons. It may be a pain to weigh each box, so go by feel. If you can lift it comfortably, but it’s not light, you’re good to go.

Keep Clothes on Hangers

The worst part of unpacking is re-hanging all of your clothes. Avoid this tedious task by keeping everything on hangers. Pop holes in the bottom of plastic bags to use them as clothing bags, in case it rains. This is also a good way to keep your hanging items organized, if you like them sorted in a specific way, I.E. Long sleeves and sweaters in one, slacks in another, etc.

Check Last Year’s Stock

 If you’re returning to college, check all your stuff from last year before packing it: “Go through the stuff you threw in your basement when you moved out last spring—throwing out and replacing old or broken items and amenities now will save you the hassle of hauling them all the way to campus and hunting for necessities there,” suggests Sarah Kismet, contributor HerCampus. Check anything electronic, like your desk lamp and alarm clock, along with storage boxes that may have cracked and anything else that was on the brink of breaking at the end of last year. Replace those items now, before packing.

Tape Drawers

In college, organization is all about the plastic sets of drawers that are easy to transport and inexpensive to buy. Instead of taking everything out of these to re=pack in boxes, simply tape the drawers closed so they won’t slide open while moving. Unpacking will be great when you don’t have to remember what goes where, especially if the drawers already organized.

Place All Liquids in Baggies

There’s nothing worse than opening a box and finding that your shampoo has opened and covered everything else in the box. Avoid this potential mess, and move-in day headache, by putting all liquids (including soaps) in sealable bags. If anything spills, it will be contained, making clean up easier. Packing and unpacking doesn’t have to be a pain. Use these tips to make the process easier and more efficient. When move-in day comes, you’ll be unpacked ready to hang with your friends in no time.



This post was contributed to GradGuard by Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer. She’s written for Reader’s Digest, Lifehack, SoFi and more.Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for health articles, new workouts and more.


Transition Uncategorized

An Illustrated Guide to Planning a College Visit

March 20, 2017

Every year, hundreds of high school juniors and seniors travel to their potential university to receive a firsthand view. What better way to compare schools by getting great hands on experience and exploring the area with mom and dad?

Planning which university to attend can be an overwhelming process, but it can also be a great opportunity to find the perfect fit and have fun while doing it. It is impossible to tour every college, especially if your choices are far away from one another. This is where planning comes into play. Start your search by researching schools online, take a virtual tour, browse through the admissions section, check out the classes offered and events taking place. Try and visit all different types of schools from urban to more rural, large, small, far away from home and the one in your backyard. Get a good feel of exactly what you want, and you might be surprised!

A visit to a college gives you the opportunity to speak with students, faculty and staff, and even see a dorm room! It’s important to begin to accumulate a running list of questions to ask along the way to prevent judging a book by its cover. “How to Plan a College Visit” by Amy Whitley does a great job of placing all the important areas into easy and actionable guides.

Here are some highlights:

Plan your visit in advance and book a tour ahead of time.

Try and avoid busy times such as move-in day and times where the campus might be empty, like a school holiday.

Don’t forget to take in your surroundings and ask questions. How do students get around? What is the general atmosphere around campus?

Check out the nearby hangout spots and neighborhood to get a feel for the community surrounding campus.

Make your college visit a family trip, tour the city, check out the local cuisine and embrace this exciting time!

For more tips on planning your college visit, check out the full post here.


Safety Uncategorized

How to Keep Your Laptop Safe When Using Campus WiFi

November 3, 2016

College can be the best time of your life; it can also be filled with tons of minor headaches. Between managing classes and keeping the budget intact, it’s important to save a little here and a little there.

As a result, we cling to our tools and protect them like parts of ourselves. The thought of losing them is akin to some kind of natural disaster. Laptops are among the devices we use that rank most highly on the list of things to protect because they accomplish and save our works. Plus, they’re a great source of endless entertainment.

To stay frugal, most college students use their laptops on campus WiFi of some sort. Purchasing a data plan for your laptop costs an inordinate amount of money, and there are so many public access points that it hardly seems worth the cost. What few realize is just how costly campus WiFi can become.

Surfing the Unsecured Net

Campus WiFi is free—not counting the huge tuition costs associated with just being present—and many colleges have made a point to ensure adequate speed is provided for all attending classes. What they haven’t provided is a secured connection. But what exactly is a secured connection?

When you access WiFi, you’re either connecting to a password-protected, encrypted network, or you’re connecting to an unsecure network. Without the use of basic security measures, everyone connected is vulnerable to outside attack. Hackers are especially fond of public WiFi systems because they can scan through multiple victims to find data worth stealing, such as names, addresses, credit card information, social security numbers, etc.

It isn’t even a big challenge either; an amateur hacker is able to hack an open WiFi network in just under 11 minutes. Knowing that, what can you really do?

All is not lost. There are several security measures you can take to make sure your use of campus WiFi is considerably safer.

Encrypting Your Own Internet

So the campus hasn’t done its job; now what? Your best bet is to take steps to encrypt your own internet connection. Doing so will keep hackers out of your laptop and let you focus on doing what you came to do at college.

The best way to do that is by subscribing to one of the many Virtual Private Network (VPN) services available. Once a tool used predominantly by businesses and major universities for faculty, a VPN allows you to connect to a remote server before the rest of the net. These remote servers then encrypt your connection and allow you to do whatever it is you need to get done safely.

You might be asking yourself, “What exactly is encryption?” Simply put, encryption scrambles data into an unreadable format that can only be read with the right code. Because the code is so complicated on industry-standard encryption (typically described as 256-bit AES), hackers and other criminals can make no use of stolen data that’s been encrypted.

With that kind of system in place, you have little to be concerned about in terms of being hacked on WiFi. That’s not to say there aren’t other risks though.

Protecting Against Theft

Utilizing campus WiFi has many perks, but it also means taking your precious laptop to a very busy location. Even small colleges will typically have hundreds of people buzzing around at any given time, and the incidence of theft is relatively high at these locations.

As a result, it’s very important you take measures to make sure your laptop isn’t just stolen outright. Keeping an eye on it is a good first step; if you don’t leave it unattended, you’re considerably less likely to experience theft.

But data on your laptop is valuable, so valuable that you can’t leave things to chance. Make sure your laptop is properly locked up tight with a login password of considerable difficulty. Any personal information should be avoided in terms of the actual password content, as should full dictionary words or themes related to the university.

Stick with passwords that contain a minimum of eight characters, have a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, contain numbers, and have symbols. Long passphrases are also a good alternative, as they’re easy for you to remember but not so easy for thieves to guess.

Another step to consider is installing an anti-theft app. Several services exist, including PreyProject and Norton Anti-Theft, that allow you to track your stolen laptop and shut down functions from afar to prevent anything from being taken off the device.

In the event your laptop winds up lost, it can also be worth leaving your contact information on a sticker affixed to the exterior so Good Samaritans can help you recover your goods.

Value in the Information Age

There’s no question that what your laptop has on it is valuable to someone else. We live in a world where information can sometimes be more valuable than natural resources, and hacking has practically become its own black industry.

That isn’t something we need to be afraid of; it’s just another consideration to make as we move forward in each day. By taking the right steps to protect your laptop, you save yourself time, money and much-needed focus. As the steps involved aren’t particularly complicated or expensive, do yourself a favor: secure that connection!



Keep your laptop safe on your campus wifi network to prevent hacking and identity theft.

About the Author: Cassie is a lifelong learner with a focus on internet securities and cybercrime. She spends her days blogging about online safety and what can be done to prevent data theft, identity theft and general sabotage.

Student Life Uncategorized

9 Tips to Start a Successful New Semester

August 25, 2016
Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Semester Off Right

It’s that time of year! Whether you’re a returning student just starting to get back into the swing of dealing with a structured schedule, or an incoming freshman trying to start your college experience off on the right foot, it’s important to take steps to set yourself up for success this semester.

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