August 2009

Things You Don't Really Need for College

When you’re packing for college, you either want to suck up your whole room and take it with you—or go out and buy a ton of new stuff to make your new habitat happening. You don’t, however, need to do either one. The rule of thumb is generally pack what you think you’ll need and then put half of it back. While you may not have to go that far, here are some things that you’ll definitely want to keep home.

The kitchen. It’s good to have a set of silverware, a cup, a bowl and/or plate and a regular cooking pot, but other than that, you don’t need anything fancy. If you don’t have a kitchen in your dorm, skip the pot itself; a hotpot will do nicely instead of a cooking pot since you can use it in your room. If you have a meal plan with the cafeteria, save your money to use on snacks and drinks to keep in your room.

Eco-Friendly Dorm Rooms

With the costs of education so high to begin with, the thing on most people’s minds when it comes to life in the dorm nowadays isn’t how to chic it out but rather how to make it as cheap as possible. But you can still “go green” in your dorm without going broke. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Skip the noxious chemicals. All you need to clean your dorm is some baking soda and water—and vinegar for tougher spots, if you prefer. In fact, baking soda is so cheap and has so many uses, you probably won’t need to buy many, if any, other cleaners while you’re in your new home away from home.

A Grade Just for Cheaters

Simon Fraser University in Canada's British Columbia has just created a new grade

for students determined to have plagiarized or otherwise cheated. After an investigation, if the student is determined to have cheated, the head of the department involved (and only the head) may assign the grade FD for Failure with Academic Dishonesty. The FD would remain on the student's transcript for the rest of the student's tenure at Simon Fraser, and for up to two years after graduation. Other universities use similar "special grades"; the University of Alberta awards an F8 or F9 grade for academic dishonsty, but the grade can be altered after three years to an F.

Saving Money on Your Textbooks

There are some college expenses you can’t do much about. You can’t really haggle down dorm fees or course costs. But your textbooks don’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Sure, you might have to buy brand new lab books once in a while because you can’t use somebody’s written-in books; but you also don’t have to use the campus bookstore all of the time, either, which doesn’t necessarily have the best bargains to begin with.

Here are a few ways you can save big bucks on books.

Borrow. If a friend or family member has the book, just see if you can borrow it for free. Just be sure to take care of it. You may even be able to borrow it from the library (especially if it’s a novel for a literature course), or even your hometown library, if you don’t need it for the whole semester or if it’s a half-semester course.

Fighting the Freshman 15

It’s not some hokey, paranoid warning to get you to visit the campus gym; the dreaded “freshman 15” is pretty common among college students. And why wouldn’t it be? You get to sleep in later (unless you signed up for all 8:00 classes, which I do not recommend!), eat whatever greasy mess you want from the cafeteria (which is sometimes unlimited as well), and unless you’re on a team or majoring in phys ed, you probably aren’t playing any sports or engaging in other physical fitness, either.

While the “freshman 15” looms around the corner, you can still completely avoid it easily enough. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.