Author: Elizabeth Lovejoy

10 Fun Things To Do This Summer on a College Budget

The following is a guest post from Sani Golriz of RentScouter.

The scenario: School’s out for the summer. You’ve been waiting for this moment since last year when school started. But you don’t know what to do because you’re on a college budget and have very little to spend on entertaining yourself.

Well, this post intends to change that mindset, no matter where you live and how much money you have to spend on some summer fun. Even if you have an unlimited supply of disposable income, you you should continue reading because you’ll pick up a few golden nuggets.

Here are 10 unforgettable and fun things you can plan for your summer vacation:

1. Take a Hike
I mean that literally. Go for a hike with a group of friends. Organize a hike once every week or two to places you’ve never had the opportunity to go. If you have a healthy number of people in your group, you can take turns driving and carpool your way there. The car ride will be the perfect prelude to a day of hiking, unless one of your friends smells bad or gets massively motion sick in moving vehicles. At that point you’ll want to re-think your crew.

2. Pitch a Tent
Did you know that national forests offer free camping? Same with BLM lands, so look into this possibility. All you really need to camp is a tent, some firewood, and a match. Food and water should probably be considered as well. This can be another group organizational trip; once or twice a month consider heading outside for some real R&R. Doesn’t unwinding off the grid in a natural environment sound so great? You can car-camp or backpack in to find the perfect, secluded site. Both have awesome perks, so plan enough trips to fully enjoy each!

3. Enter in a Triatholon
Whether you’re athletic or not, you can certainly train and participate in a triatholon. For those who have never heard this term, it’s a bike, run, and swim race. You do a little bit of each and get massive kudos from friends and family for it. Just post it on Facebook and you’ll istantly be popular. Triatholons give you the chance to explore activities that you may have otherwise not participated in the past. You’ll realize through the training how invigorating it can be. You’ll also meet new fun and active people who will probably motivate you to continue competing in the future.

4. Have a BBQ
This can happen every single day if you wanted it to, and why shouldn’t it? Nothing says summer like slabbing a piece of meat (or tofu) on the grill. Picture this: a backyard bbq with 100 of your closest friends (Yikes!) playing yard games, swimming in the pool (or doughboy, whatever you can get your hands on), and drinking delicious summer concoctions. Of course you’re not expected to buy all the goods, make it a potluck! Everyone brings their own grill item and drinks, and you prepare a few appetizers. It’s as easy as that and super fun.

5. Outdoor Films and Town Festivals
These are the best. When was the last time you saw a film outside with a picnic?  If the answer is never, you’re seriously missing out. If you live in a college town, chances are that the summer months are when the school sponsors these sorts of events. Tickets are typically under $10 and you’ll have a schedule of movies to choose from.

Town festivals are also fun events to go to. Again, if you live in a college town, you’ll likely see these events all year round. You’ll typically find that these festivals are for every age, so there’s something to do for all interests. You can usually find the year’s events on a master calendar on your city, town, or state’s website.

6.Go to a Baseball Game
No summer is complete without attending a proper baseball game. Baseball epitomizes all things summer related. You can find super cheap seats at every stadium. Not too keen on watching a bunch of guys running around a diamond slapping each other’s butts? Chances are that if you’ve been asked by a group of friends to go, you’ll pay little attention to the game and more attention to bonding with your cohorts, or just the hottie sitting next to you. Spending time with your friends while enjoying (or pretending to) an American past-time: win-win, wouldn’t you say?

7. Put Your Green Thumb to Use
Summer is a great season to plant vegetables, flowers, and herbs. It’s very rewarding to plant your own food, so give it a shot. There are a plethora of online resources that will give you tips on best practices when gardening, like what you should plant next to each other, what grows like a weed and will need occasional pruning, how to efficiently build your flower bed, etc. When my boyfriend started our garden plot, he grew tomatoes for us. It seemed easy enough, all I was required to do was water it each day. It actually ruined me because to this day I can’t eat a store-bought tomato. Must be home-grown or purchased at a farmer’s market, which, incidentally, is another fun thing to do on a summer budget!

8. Take Advantage of Your Birth Right
This is only applicable to people of Jewish descent, but is worthy of mention here. Basically, Israel has a free birth right trip. If your mother is Jewish, you get a complimentary 10 day trip where your flight, food, and lodging is completely paid for. You must be 18 years or older to enjoy this amazing opportunity, which is probably applicabe to your if you’re Jewish and reading this post.

9. Volunteer
Volunteering can be a very satisfying experience. In some way or another, you’re helping other people and/or animals. If you love animals, find a zoo or animal shelter and devote some time to helping them adjust to their environments. If you have a passion for helping people without homes, volunteer at a homeless shelter. If you want some experience in the medical field and want to help disadvantaged individuals, consider donating your time to free clinics. Whatever your interest, you can always find a place to volunteer your services. If you’re a college student, this is a major bonus. You get to include it on your resume!

10. Beach It
Or Lake It, if you’re landlocked. This is a no brainer, right? How long has it been since you had the chance to relax near a body of water without a textbook in your hand? Hanging out at the beach or lake can be a solo or group event. If you have neither a beach nor lake, and you’re really hurting for a body of water, get a doughboy. Splish Splash!

Do you have any other ideas for fun things to do on a summer budget? Share them in the comments below!

Sell Your Used College Textbooks to eCampus.com!

Have a backpack full of used textbooks you don’t need anymore? Sell your used college textbooks to eCampus.com! It is much easier than selling your textbook at the campus bookstore, selling them to a friend, selling them on Craigslist, or selling them to that weird kid down the hall.

Just visit eCampus.com, enter the ISBNs of the books you want to sell, print your FREE shipping label, and send them to us! We offer checks, direct deposit, or get 20% more for your books if you choose in-store credit.

Have a great summer everyone and remember that you can make some easy money selling your college textbooks to eCampus.com!

-Lovejoy

Should You Go to Grad School?

The following is a guest post from Margaret Mannix the Executive Editor of U.S. News & World Report’s best-selling higher education reference books, including Best Graduate Schools 2013 and Best Colleges 2012.

Given today’s economic turmoil, corporate belt-tightening, and abysmal unemployment rate, a second degree could mean a higher salary, a big career boost if you’re already out there in the working world, or an exciting new direction if you’re still floundering around with that part-time job at the mall. It’s a pricey proposition—you’re talking tuition and fees of $9,000 at public universities and more than $20,000 at private schools—but the payoff could be tremendous: People with master’s degrees earn more over their lifetimes than those with baccalaureate degrees.

For many of you 20-somethings, the decision might be a no-brainer. Coming out of grad school in your 20’s or early 30’s means you’ll have decades of high-earning power. And just think what that fatter paycheck will help with—rent, clothes, a car, and those student loan payments that seem to have no end. But—and this is a huge caveat—pulling in the big bucks in this day and age depends on your chosen field. The median salary for someone with a master’s in engineering is $107,600, according to a recent report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. That’s more than twice what someone with a master’s in English will earn.

Here are some things to think about if grad school is on your horizon:

*Do your homework—and not just in choosing a program. Grill the career service people at all the schools you’re researching: Ask how many grads got jobs, what kind, and how long it took to get them. Ask about the long-term career path. Ask about the starting salaries for the jobs—and when you can expect a bump up in pay. Ask where all the good jobs are.

*For aspiring B-school grads, while the boom times aren’t back yet, there are definitely some bright spots. The tech sector is hiring more M.B.A.s, and international firms are seeking talented grads to help them take advantage of emerging markets like China.

*Prospects for newly minted engineers are excellent, with robust demand across the board—especially in electrical, biomedical, aerospace, computer, mechanical, and petroleum engineering, to name a few.

*Med school applicants will find that primary care practitioners are enjoying a seller’s market. Openings for nurse practitioners and physician assistants abound, too, and get this: One expert told U.S. News that more than 90 percent of people with a master’s in nursing nab a job within six months of graduating.

*Would-be J.D.’s might want to consider healthcare and intellectual property law, which are showing signs of rejuvenation thanks to recent legislation on healthcare, patents, and financial services.

 

The College Graduate Checklist

The following is a guest post from Noël Rozny of myFootPath.com

Right about now, you’re probably crawling out from underneath a pile of library books, term papers, and exam notes, feeling like you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. And you’re right, the school year is almost over, which means that if you’re a senior, you’ll be graduating soon. Congratulations!

While you should reward yourself for completing your degree program, don’t take a break for too long. There are many other details that need your attention now that school is winding down. To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a College Graduate checklist that will help make the transition in the “real world” a little bit easier.

5 Things Every College Grad Needs After Graduation

Job Search Tools

You might have already started your job search, but if not, now’s the time. For a successful job search, you’ll need a polished resume, 3-4 professional references, and a strong professional network. If you’ve never compiled a resume, you should be able to get some free guidance at your school’s career center. Professors, former employers, and student organization supervisors all make great references, so check in with those individuals now to see if they’ll speak on your behalf. As for networking, start with references, colleagues, coaches, and anyone else you’ve collaborated with in the past four years. Contact them about your job search, connect with them on LinkedIn, and pick their brain for any tips or job opportunities they know of.

An Apartment

If you’ve been living in the dorms the past four years, one of the first things you need to do before graduation is line up a place to live. Finding an apartment that fits your needs and price range can take a few weeks, so get started now. Make a list of what you want, what you don’t want, and start contacting apartment companies. Don’t forget that you’ll need money for a security deposit (anywhere from a month to two month’s rent), basic furniture (this is where futons come in handy) and to get the utilities (electricity, water, gas and cable) turned on in your name.

Health Insurance

While you were in college, chances are that you were on your parent’s health insurance. The good news is that you can stay on you’re their plan for a few more years, until you’re 26, so if the internship or job you’re starting after graduation doesn’t offer a plan, you’re covered. If you do decide to switch insurance plans to what you’re employer is offering, make sure there are no gaps in your coverage, as that can currently affect your ability to receive treatment for pre-existing conditions.

A Work Wardrobe

Even if you luck out and land a job at a company with a relaxed dress code, you’ll still need a good suit or two for client meetings, corporate events, and business trips. Business clothes are expensive, so maximize your dollars by buying one or two suits in neutral colors, like black or gray, and variety of dress shirts in a different colors.

Retirement Plans

I know retirement probably seems very far away. But now is actually a crucial time in your retirement planning. Putting away a set amount each month, no matter how small, can have a huge impact on how much you’ll have when that golden day arrives. If you’re employer offers a 401(k) or similar plan, getting started should be pretty easy. If not, you can meet with a financial advisor and get started on your own.

I know the items on this checklist might seem overwhelming, but with the help of those who have gone before you (parents, an older sibling, an aunt or uncle) it’s all very doable, and the sooner you start, the easier your transition will be. Good luck!

Noël Rozny is Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages. Visit myFootpath.com to find the bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD program that’s right for you.

Time to Relax: Dead Week

photo via clog.dailycal.org

Finals are almost here and the last thing anyone wants to do is study (ew). The sound of studying just makes you want to curl up into a ball or go hide. The good news is campuses have a few ways to escape the studying and take a break. The activities are all across campus and they start during the most bittersweet week of the year, DEAD WEEK. No tests, no homework, just studying (ew again). Start looking around for these breaks and take note of them; you might just want to check them out. A few things that could be happening around your campus:

  • PAWS for stress relief- with this you can take a break from studying and go play with service puppies! I know I’d want to spend an afternoon meeting new friends.
  • A lot of places around campus might have a “chill” day or a “kick-back” day where you can just take the afternoon off and go eat free food, play games and possibly when door prizes! Look at the library, alumni groups, activities boards or any kind of campus group and I’m sure you will find something! And most of the time there is one everyday a week, so just make you rounds!
  • Often campuses offer Massage on the go (MOTG) where you can enjoy a free 5 minute massage to take the stress off. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?
  • Another thing to look out for is a student-teacher-student reception. This is an exhibition of a lot of different artwork done by the students on campus. Take a break from the stress and go check it out. Plus, there is almost always free food and I know that’s what everyone wants.

Start looking around your campus and see what you can do procrastinate from studying for finals! There are a lot of fun things to do, if you just find the right ones. Go out and get your freebies so you can stop stressing about finals. Good luck!

This is a guest post from our Internet Marketing Intern Haeli. Many thanks to her!