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student housing

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.

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

How to Make Dorm Life More Comfortable

October 30, 2020

When you had a tough day in elementary school, you could come home and talk to Mom or Dad while they made dinner in the kitchen. When you had a rough time in middle school, you could spend the evening sprawled in front of the television, unwinding in safe security. When you had a challenging day in high school, you could retreat to the familiar serenity of your bedroom.

Now that you’re in college, though, everything is new. Your workload likely feels enormous. Your social life is constant. And when you feel overwhelmed? Well, you want to have a safe place where you can withdraw to recoup and recover, right?

Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you turn your dorm life into a sanctuary that’s as calming as your childhood home.

Don’t Neglect Nostalgia

First and foremost, if you want to quickly establish a sense of comfort in your dorm, it’s important that you purposefully bring some of your home along with you.

You can do this by packing things like:

  • Photos of your family.
  • Wall-hung art/pictures from home.
  • Your own bedding with the smell of home.
  • Mugs, silverware, and any other daily items that can remind you of home.

The more small reminders you can have of the home front, the easier it will be to introduce a sense of familiarity with your new living space.

Think About Physical Comfort

Before we get to the decorations and setup of your dorm, it’s important to address the physical comfort of your space. The three main items in question are:

  • Your bed: Do you have a good bed to sleep on? If not, can you bring a memory foam mattress, good bedding, or anything else to improve your sleep?
  • Your desk: Do you have a comfortable, spacious area where you can work on homework or study for hours at a time?
  • A chair: You don’t want to literally break your back while you’re working in your dorm. Make sure your chair is comfortable and has good lumbar support.

While all of these are important, you don’t need to break the bank for them. There are many ways that you can thrift and repurpose older furniture for your own use. You may even be able to bring some furniture from home.

The important thing is that you keep an eye out for quality items that will make your space more inviting.

Steer into a Warm, Cozy Feel

Once you have your basic furniture needs tended to, it’s time to start focusing on a comfortable feel to go along with them.

Start by identifying a few words that embody what you want your space to feel like. While each person’s taste is different, if you want a comfortable space, you’ll probably want to include words like cozy and warm in there somewhere.

When it comes to creating a cozy bedroom, you may not be able to do bigger projects, like paint the walls, but it’s still easy to tap into those fuzzy feelings with small details, like getting a headboard, setting up a few potted plants, or plastering a lamp.

Don’t Forget the Ambiance

Along with the decor, it’s also important to remember the ambiance of your room. Of particular interest are:

  • The smell: College dorms can be especially rank, and it’s important to fight that tendency. Try setting up a diffuser and some essential oils to claim a positive, predictable aroma for your space.
  • The sounds: Make sure you have a good way to regularly pump your dorm full of comforting sounds. A smart home device and Bluetooth earbuds are both excellent college student gifts, whether you request them from someone else or give them to yourself as a house warming present.
  • The lighting: Don’t surrender to those stark dorm lights. Bring a lamp, hang Christmas lights, and generally look for ways to get some mood lighting set up in your space.

Dorm, Sweet Dorm

From a comfortable workspace and bed to a cozy ambiance and a warm decor, there are plenty of ways to easily turn a stark dorm room into a comfortable paradise. Refer to the list above, brainstorm how you can apply these ideas to your own dorm, and then start cobbling together the most comfortable dorm on the campus

AUTHOR BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

Other Safety

Growth In Campus Fires & Crimes Confirm The Value Of Renters Insurance For College Students

July 25, 2018

According to Clery Act reports, in 2017-2018, the number of fires that occurred in on-campus student housing facilities was down 12.3% from 1,938 to 1,726 fires. In addition to fires, the number of reported criminal offenses decreased by around 1% from 38,000 to 37,573. The data for criminal offenses is based on reports from nearly 6,000 institutions and the data for fires is based on reports from 686 institutions and 701 campuses.

According to Bob Soza, President of College Parents of America, “We recommend families consider renters insurance because college students and their parents are often caught unprepared, and these unexpected incidents can also disrupt a students’ education.”

In fact, a majority of state insurance commissioners recommend college students consider renters insurance.

With so much money at stake, John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, suggests that “college parents make a plan in case their student is a victim of theft, their property is damaged by a fire or water damage or if they are found responsible for damages they may cause.”

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 computerRenters insurance can replace your stolen or damaged property. Renters insurance can cover those costs and help you get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.

2. If your school does not replace stolen or damaged property – In a 2017 survey of student housing leaders, 98% of schools report that they do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk.

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

Fees added, “college students and their families are smart to consider purchasing renter’s insurance before the start of school. For about $12.00 a month, students can secure protection against financial losses making renters insurance a must have consideration for college families.”