spring break

Spring Semester > Fall Semester

As winter break is nearing an end, the spring semester is in the looming future. No more sleeping in until three and doing nothing but hanging out in your pajamas all day. You actually have to brush your hair out and get to that 8AM class you’ve been dreading. You should not worry though; it will be easy to think positively as you enter this semester. I have some thoughts on why spring semester is better than fall semester.Blog-Liza 1

1. Time flies by: The spring semester is always pretty short compared to the fall semester, which always seems to last an entire year in itself.  Fall comes with dreading the incoming winter ahead where as in spring we welcome the warm weather with open arms. The season change makes time fly by so that at the end of the semester you’ll be wondering where all the time went!

2. Spring Break: Sun rays and tan lines mean it’s time for Spring Break. The spring semester has the best week of the year, while the fall semester only offers minimal holidays and indoor shelter from the cold. If you decide to take it easy with a book, travel across the country or soak up the sun with some friends- you can’t go wrong. Spring break is always something to look forward to.

3. Summer is around the corner: The best thing about the spring semester is that you are very close to summer. When the fall semester begins, the daunting thoughts of an entire school year ahead can be stressful and overwhelming for some. By spring you know what to expect and can get through the semester with ease and obtain the ultimate reward of summertime.

With these three motivations, I know that I plan to make spring semester more enjoyable and easier to make my way through it. Remember your coat on your way to class now but get ready to shred those layers by April. Bring on the Spring Semester!

Quick Cash for Spring Break

As March quickly approaches, students can officially begin the countdown to the much anticipated week that lies ahead-SPRING BREAK! However, before you start thinking about all that R&R, keep in mind the costs associated with spring break. For many students, this is a costly (but well worth it) adventure. Spring break definitely empties your wallet, so we have some great tips on how to save a few extra bucks for all you cash strapped students:

Spring Break Blog Image

1. Sell old clothes. As the stores begin to introduce their Spring and Summer lines it’s hard to resist purchasing a cute new outfit or swim suite for your upcoming vacation. In order to keep your Spring Break budget intact, without sacrificing your style, consider selling your clothes at stores such as Plato’s Closet or Clothes Mentor. These stores give you cash for your used clothes up front. Or, consider taking your clothes to a local consignment shop where you can often exchange your last season items for store credit. In doing so you’re killing two birds with one stone, getting new clothes while clearing out the old ones!

2. Cut down on eating out. It’s often much easier to stop by the nearest convenience store on your way to and from class. However, that slice of pizza and bottle of soda that you buy every day for lunch can really add up quickly. Instead of going out for lunch and dinner, consider packing or making your food at home. If for some reason you must go out, pass the overpriced beverage and stick to the free ice water. Your wallet will be thanking you, and so will your body – just in time for the beach!

3. Make a budget and stick to it. When you aren’t committed to a budget, it’s incredibly easy to get sidetracked and wind up spending way more than you intended. When you have a specified budget, you can consciously track your spending and have a working knowledge of what you can and cannot spend. Setting up a budget in Excel, or using online tools such as Mint, will help you determine where to cut corners. I suggest getting out a limited amount of cash for the week rather than swiping your card all the time. This will force you to make smarter purchasing decisions.

4. Sell back your old textbooks to eCampus.com. As the snow melts we often find ourselves making great attempts to rid our lives of old junk. Texbooks from semesters passed usually account for a large majority of clutter, and can help you rack up some extra cash. Instead of letting your textbooks collect another years worth of dust, you should consider selling them back.  It is really easy – just go to www.ecampus.com and type in the ISBN to find how much your book is worth. If you are satisfied with the amount (I always am!), just print off the prepaid shipping label and send it off to eCampus, and they take care of the rest! Within a couple of days you will receive a check in the mail, or you can get your check directly deposited to your account – it is that simple.

It can be very difficult to cut back on spending when there are so many temptations surrounding you, but when you consider a week of pure relaxation, free from financial and academic stress, it is well worth it. What other money saving or money making tricks have you used?

Good luck on midterms and safe travels to all!

How to Have a “Staycation” in College

I’m all for going away. I love getting a break from campus life, and a little room to breathe. But what if that’s not possible? It’s not always practical to leave your school stomping grounds, and for whatever the reason—cost, distance, timing, you can still make the best of your time at school. Why not try relaxing and taking a little “staycation” right on your very own campus?

So how do you staycation? What does that even mean? It’s means taking a break, and having fun right where you are—no beach or resorts necessary—and all without ever leaving your college campus!

The options are endless when trying to plan a mini getaway for you and your friends all without really going anywhere. Try to spice up your regular routine and add a little fun.

It’s Friday night, everyone is out and you and the roommates are staying in. This would be the perfect opportunity for a movie marathon! What are your favorites? Chick flicks? Scary Sagas? Action Adventures? Warm up your Netflix account, dust off your pile of DVDs and grab your snuggie! To really get the night going, dare I suggest picking a pint or two of your favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? This can be a girl’s night, guy’s night, bring your friend and your neighbor night, whoever, wherever, bring out the inner film critic in you and settle in for a night of movie madness.

Another great option to spice up your school stay? Have a themed night in your living room or closest dorm lounge. Why not try a pizza party, a Mexican fiesta, heck why not throw a friendly luau and hula with your friends? When you’re cramped on campus it’s all about stretching your imagination and getting the best of situations you may already be in—i.e. home on a Friday, studying in a lounge, roaming around the quad! Look up fun recipes, have an arts and crafts party to make “decorations”, go all out! It’s not like there are hundreds of your college peers watching from afar—they aren’t even on campus. This is your time to get creative.

So you’re not into costumes and umbrella drinks? No Problem! You can always get up and go out! Your school probably offers a variety of late night programming or activities. Check the schedule, find their website, or visit your programming office to get more information. If none of those work, become a local tourist in your neighborhood or city! Have you seen all the sites? Tried a few different dining favorites, or local gems? Look up the city’s visitor center—often times there will be tons of free or discounted coupons for entry into city attractions, museums, shows, etc. Another great resource if you’re looking to be surprised and to try something new is UrbanSpoon. Using this app you can find hidden restaurants and yummy places to try all just by shaking your phone! Go out on a whim and let your phone, budget or mood pick a place for you! Grab some friends and pretend you are on a real vacation trying the cuisine for the first time!

The thrill of vacations is often centered on the feeling of adventure, and trying something new. While that is all fine and dandy, sometimes the best vacations can be focused instead on “catching up” and rejuvenating.  College students need sleep and time to rest. Definitely do a few, fun, and “out of the box” type of activities but also remember to take time for yourself and catch up on things that are important to you. Sleep is a big one for most students, but what about reading? When is the last time you sat down with a good book and actually read the words instead of just pretending to highlight them? Take this break time to unwind and prepare for the rest of the semester. Spring Break is here, but that means finals and the end of the semester are just around the corner. Try a few low maintenance activities like baking, or a little service in your community (walks, cleanups, soup kitchens, etc.).

The thrill of vacations can be about whatever you choose, but the joys of a “staycation” are endless! Think big and small and cater your break to fit your needs and fill any voids! Just remember to take everything with a grain of salt, your friends may be away—maybe on a beach—but they have to come home eventually and catch up on reality, you on the other hand can be snuggled up with a good book, a cupcake, watching reruns and relaxing.

-Ring Queen

I’m reading A People’s History of the United States: 1492-present

Save Money While On Spring Break

My little brother is leaving for his Senior Spring Break trip to Mexico in a little over a week. Besides being extremely jealous, I’m left to ponder his trip and think back to my own vacation to Mexico just a few short years back. The sun, the sand, and oh the spending! If only I could do it over, what could I have to spare my pocketbook the intense workout that it got that week?

Choosing this year to stay local and save my extra cash for summer, many of my collegiate peers (not to mention family members) will be traveling far and wide to spring break destinations to soak in the sun or to adventure in the unknown. While the time off from classes is needed and relaxing, we often forget to take into consideration the costs associated with many of our trips and end up shelling out a little more than we planned on spring break basics. Whether you’re jetting off to somewhere warm and watery or someplace a little closer to home, there are important saving tactics to remember when you go on spring break. There are three main areas you need to pay attention to if you want to be “saving savvy”. My saving plan focuses on three F’s: Foundation, Food & Fun.

What are the basic fundamentals when it comes to travel? Think about what’s necessary in order to get from point A to Point B and ensure that you 1) arrive, 2) have somewhere to sleep, and 3) are safe and sound. This includes transportation, accommodation, sleeping arrangements, location and area. When you have all of these areas covered you know you have the basic foundation of your trip planned. Where are you going? For how long? Where are you staying? What are the amenities?  How much will it all cost? Where can you save?

It’s hard to really crunch numbers when it comes to location and travel but do the best you can! Try to book your trip early and look for deals. Is there an off-season price? An early bird booking advantage? Can you use miles or points? Often, if you are member of an airline frequent flyer program you might have unused rewards that can be converted or put towards a ticket. It is also worth looking into group rates, and special offers with hotels. You might be able to try out different packages, or at least spilt the cost between you and your friends.

After you’ve covered how you will get there, where you will sleep and “live” for the duration of your stay, (and hopefully saved at least on a small scale,) it’s time to focus on other costs that may be literally “eating” your budget.

Food is often the area that breaks the bank in the spring break department. Breakers are so concerned with what and where they go that they forget about all the cash they ‘re spending just on eating. Restaurants get pricey, and please don’t tell me you ever use room service! Don’t do it! Be smart, be savvy and snack often—but do it in your room or from your beach bag! There is no need to spend wads of cash on overpriced hotel food or pricey beach buffets. My favorite thing to do on vacation is to stock up on the food basics and become best friends with the classic PB&J. It sounds strange, but by keeping the kitchen stocked with easy to make, and easy to afford staples you can spend more on other parts of your trips. Drinks can be expensive at the bar, so why not fill the fridge with store bought beverages you can throw in your bag and bring to the beach by hand? Make sandwiches, eat snack packs, goldfish, pasta—anything that is relatively simple will save you time and money. Budget a few meals out with the group and designate specific segments of your cash to certain days or “must have” meals. This way, you won’t overspend and will also be able to enjoy the thrill of being on vacation and dining out! It’s nice to have appetizers at the hotel restaurant, but I bet you anything chips and salsa will taste the same in your room as they do when you pay double for them downstairs! Turn it into an event—the cocktail hour before you go out, have snacks and drinks in your room, so you don’t have to spend money twice!

After food comes fun. Trips are the best time to let your hair down and get loose. You can try new places and activities—but all at a price! Make sure you are looking for deals everywhere you go! I’m a huge fun of group rates, discount offers, and any special that revolves around time. It may sound funny, but give me an early bird rate and yes I will gladly go somewhere extra early and stay until late. Mexico is just one example, but if you’re into nightlife and the club scene, look for specials on covers or happy hours on drinks. Some places, not just bars, will have deals on food and have themes for entry. Sometimes you can even go during the day and find out what kind of specials you can get if you come back later with friends! Regardless of what you’re doing, during the day or night, scuba diving, jet skiing or spa days, make sure you ask for discounts and deals—just by asking you may be able to work something out, plus the worst they could say is no!

Spring break can be wild and fun and full of good memories, however one of your main goals should also be keeping your wallet full! You don’t want to do mindless spending “just because”. Plan ahead, look at details, and prepare a budget. Having an idea of what you want to spend and on what will make you more conscious of where your money is going. Another thing to remember is packing essentials: do you have all the basics? Nothing is worse than paying more for things you could have gotten for nothing at home. Biggies are sunscreen, sandals, sunglasses, gum, etc. If you are in a “spring break” hotspot expect these basics to skyrocket in price, they know you have no other option!

-Ring Queen

I’m reading Social Psychology

Top Spring Break Destinations for 2012: No Passport Necessary

Looking to make some last minute spring break plans but don’t know where you want to go? No worries, I have compiled a list of the top destinations for 2012 that are sure to please.

Panama City Beach, FL
It’s no question that Panama City Beach, Florida is still the number one Spring Break Destination in the United States. It is estimated that between now and the end of March over 500,000 students will visit the 27 miles of beaches. One of the biggest draws is the wide array of nightlife, as well as daytime activities. Contests and Concerts offer plenty of entertainment without even leaving the beach. As for weather, the average annual temperature is 77 degrees. Although it is not the warmest location in Florida, it is definitely still hot enough to work on your tan.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Although not a stereotypical spring break destination, Las Vegas has recently grown in popularity. For those that have done the beach thing, it is a nice alternative that still offers some great amenities. MTV must agree because they have decided to bring their spring break headquarters to the Palms. This means celebrities, concerts, and contests like no other. Endless pool parties during the day and awesome nightlife are just two reasons why 2012 is the year for a Vegas spring break.

Ski Resorts
Another alternative to the beach scene is visiting a Ski Resort in the United States. For those avid skiers or snowboarders, snow may be just as attractive as a hot weather destination. There are a lot of locations to choose from but a few are actually going out of their way to offer student friendly activities and prices. With a laid back atmosphere and good nightlife, Crested Butte, Colorado is one of these places. If you find yourself craving some adventure this Spring Break, check out the ski resorts nearest you.

Miami Beach, FL
Miami has remained a top competitor for some years now; with the exciting night life and upscale shopping you can’t go wrong. Although a bit more pricey then other Florida areas, warm temperatures and a wide variety of activities make up for it. The city has over 150 nightclubs and hosts the Miami Music Week March 20-25.The average annual temperature is 83 degrees, with a water temperature of around 76 degrees. If you’re interested in good food, crazy nightlife, and upscale accommodations Miami is the place for you.

Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona has been a long standing vacation destination but has yet to lose its charm. Recently it has become known as a more affordable location in Florida for spring break. Package deals and cheap accommodations keep spring breakers coming back each year. One perk of going to Daytona is that some parts of the beach allow you to drive on the sand and bring along a cooler. The temperature around March and April stay around 76-80 degrees, with a water temperature of around 70. So if you’re a bargain hunter that still wants to have some fun in the sun, Daytona may be the right choice for you.

South Padre Island, Texas:
Just a short distance from Mexico, South Padre Island tops the list of spring break destinations. Located off the gulf coast of Texas the laid back community has miles of beautiful beaches which draw in bigger crowds every year. Coca-Cola beach is a popular spot for students and offers a never ending party atmosphere. Water sports such as parasailing, windsailing, and snorkeling are also quite popular. Live music at night gives students the true Texas experience and helps keep them coming back year after year.

This is a guest post from our wonderful marketing intern Chelsea Knudsen.