college life

College Social Media Habits That Help (Not Hinder) Your College Experience

How Does Social Media Affect College Students?

The use of social media in the daily life of college students has gained more and more prevalence over the past decade. Not only does social media usage constitute a large portion of a college student’s free time, but they also hold an interesting dynamic within the academic and employment spheres. As a current or prospective college student, it’s important to consider the ways that social media can benefit you in college. But, adversely, you should be mindful of the negative habits, impacts, and consequences social media may have toward your college experience that you want to avoid.

What Social Media Do College Students Use the Most?

According to recent surveys conducted by Business Insider and EAB, it was found that the most popular social media sites among the Gen Z population, based on daily and total usage (in order), were Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok. Here are the percentages of respondents that claimed they check each social media network on a daily basis and the total usage numbers:

  1. Instagram
    1. 65% check on a daily basis 
    2. 82.5% use Instagram (10% increase from 2017 to 2019)
  2.  YouTube 
    1. 62% check on a daily basis 
    2. 81% use YouTube
  3. Snapchat 
    1. 51% check on a daily basis 
    2. 78% use Snapchat
  4. Facebook
    1. 34% check on a daily basis 
    2. 50% use Facebook (17% decrease from 2017 to 2019)
  5. Twitter: 
    1. 23% check on a daily basis 
    2. 43% use Twitter
  6. Pinterest: 
    1. 14% check on a daily basis 
    2. 36% use Pinterest
  7. TikTok: 
    1. 11% check on a daily basis 

Based on expert insights, an upwards of 98% of college-aged students use some form of social media. Not only this, but an annual nationwide survey of college students by UCLA found that 27.2% of college students spend more than six hours on social media per week. In turn, this has also led to the time spent physically socializing with friends among college students to lower and lower recorded averages over recent years.

Do Colleges Look at Your Social Media Accounts?

The simple answer: yes, many college admissions departments look at prospective students’ social media accounts prior to making a decision on their acceptance into the school. While it is rare that you’ll be denied admission to a college for social media posts, a survey administered by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that 11% of respondents said they denied admission based on social media content and another 7% rescinded offers based on social media content. In total, around 25% of admissions professionals admit that they check applicants’ social media profiles. Even though these percentages may vary by school admission rates and criteria, this provides more proof that you should be mindful of what you post on social media accounts in order to ensure that you optimize your likelihood of being admitted into college.

Will Social Media Hurt Your College and Career Goals?

It’s important to consider how your time on social media influences your daily life, but you should also think about how the content that you post will impact your future. According to a 2017 study, 70% of employers use social media to screen job candidates before hiring them. Additionally, 54% of employers reported that they’ve found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate. Here are some of the top reasons that employers decided to not hire a candidate due to content on social media: 

  • 39% – Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information.
  • 38% – Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs.
  • 32% – Candidate made discriminatory comments.
  • 30% – Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee.
  • 27% – Candidate lied about qualifications.

With that being said, we must reiterate the importance of monitoring the types of content that you post on social media. As a general rule-of-thumb, if a post you’re going to make on social media seems to be even slightly questionable upon review, it’s probably best not to post it. Not only can the things that you post influence personal relationships, but they also play a prominent role within the college admissions and hiring processes. You wouldn’t want one frivolous post to determine your future, so be safe and smart when using social media.

Social Media Safety / Admissions Social Media Strategy

The safest way to be present in the world of social media without potentially sabotaging future opportunities is to only make information that you are comfortable with EVERYONE seeing publicly viewable. One easy way to make sure your social media profiles follow these guidelines is to adjust your privacy settings on your accounts. For example, if you’re worried about former Facebook posts that you’ve made in the past, but you don’t want to go through and check each one, you can change your privacy settings to hide their visibility from the public. Here are Instructions for changing your Facebook privacy settings: Facebook Privacy Settings Guide.

Here are privacy settings guides for other popular social media networks as well:

Safe Social Media Sites / Recommended College Social Media Apps

There are many positive effects to social media usage as it pertains to college admissions and future employment opportunities. Social media allows you to connect to people in ways that were never available to older generations and you can use this to your advantage by networking, being involved in constructive communities, and furthering your influence and reputation. Here are some of the social media apps we recommend and how to get the largest benefit out of using them:

  • LinkedIn – LinkedIn is widely considered the most beneficial social media app to college students and it provides many educational and employment related opportunities.
    • Resume Enhancement: LinkedIn allows you to define all your skills and experience, beyond a conventional resume. You can also get referrals from people you know, which will further enhance your credibility. 
    • Networking: LinkedIn allows you to become connected to students, employers, and  other professionals, which can be very helpful in advancing your career. Use connections with these individuals and entities to stay acquainted, in touch, and up to date. You never know what connection could lead to a future opportunity!
    • Job/Internship Searching: Not only does LinkedIn provide a plethora of job and internship listings for you to search from, but many companies use LinkedIn to search for qualified job/internship candidates. Display your skills and experience on LinkedIn to attract the attention of potential employers that are using the platform to scout for talent.
    • Interview Preparation: You can use LinkedIn to perform research on companies that you may be interested in working for. The more you know about a company, the more prepared you can be for an interview.
  • YouTube – This platform can mainly be used as a resource for educational content and tutorial videos. Here are some of the most popular YouTube channels for education and learning:
    • Khan Academy – Provides tutoring in subjects such as math, science, computing, and economics.
    • Crash Course – Teaches a wide range of subjects, like world history, biology, and psychology.
    • Ted Ed – General, wide-ranging, educational content.
    • freeCodeCamp.org – Provides free programming courses.
    • Math and Science – Self explanatory; provides lessons on math and science.
    • There are many more great educational channels out there. Simply search for your subject of interest, along with “lessons/tutoring/education/courses” and you’ll likely be able to find helpful content.
  • Facebook – As long as you follow the guidelines above to safely present yourself on Facebook, it can be a very beneficial platform to use.
    • You can use Facebook to connect with classmates to set up study sessions, work on group projects, and/or ask for assistance and guidance on academic related tasks.
    • Many professors even use Facebook Groups as a way for all of the students in their class to communicate and connect with each other, share information, and complete assignments.
    • There is a fair amount of educational content available on Facebook that can garner you a greater understanding of subjects in your curriculum.
    • Facebook also provides opportunities for networking, albeit at a less professional level than LinkedIn.
  • Twitter – Similar to Facebook, Twitter can be a valuable platform if you’re able to safely and professionally present yourself.
    • You can use Twitter to easily stimulate discussions with new individuals and keep up to date on current topics and trends among educators and employers.

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

Works Cited

  1. Salm, Lauren. “70% Of Employers Are Snooping Candidates’ Social Media Profiles.” CareerBuilder, 15 June 2017, www.careerbuilder.com/advice/social-media-survey-2017.
  2. Green, Dennis. “The Most Popular Social Media Platforms with Gen Z.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 2 July 2019, www.businessinsider.com/gen-z-loves-snapchat-instagram-and-youtube-social-media-2019-6.
  3. Griffin, Riley. “Social Media Is Changing How College Students Deal With Mental Health, For Better Or Worse.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 22 July 2015, www.huffpost.com/entry/social-media-college-mental-health_n_55ae6649e4b08f57d5d28845.
  4. Jaschik, Scott. “Inside Higher Ed.” Prospective Students’ Social Media Preferences Have Changed in Two Years, 23 Sept. 2019, www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2019/09/23/prospective-students-social-media-preferences-have-changed-two-years.
  5. Moody, Josh. “Why Colleges Look at Students’ Social Media.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 22 Aug. 2019, www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2019-08-22/why-colleges-look-at-students-social-media-accounts.
  6. Hochman, Allison. “25 Best Educational YouTube Channels for College Students.” University of the People, 19 Jan. 2020, www.uopeople.edu/blog/best-educational-youtube-channels-for-college-students/

How to Have a Successful Gap Year

Life after high school can be daunting. The uncertainty and responsibility that comes with newfound adulthood are often trying. After twelve years of school, 2-8 more can be intimidating. Many students need a break from traditional education and want to explore life outside of the classroom. Recently, gap years have become a popular solution to this problem.

What is a gap year?

A gap year is a break students take from their education. Students can take a gap year for financial reasons, as a sabbatical from school, to gain experience, and so on. These breaks can be taken before, after, or during college. Gap years do not have to be an entire calendar year. A gap year can be anywhere from a few months, a semester, a year – any time frame, really.

A productive gap year is really about doing what you want. Pursuing your passion, traveling, gaining work and real-world experience, or just relaxing and recharging; your gap year is yours to do with as you please. Still, it’s also essential to grow during the gap year in preparation for the future.

So, how do you take full advantage of this time? 

What To Do During a Gap Year

Make a Gap Year Plan

Decide what you’ll do during your gap year and make plans on how you can complete tasks and accomplish goals. Think about where you want to go, if anywhere, and what you want to do. Consider what will help you in the future. The best part about this time is that it’s primarily dictated by your own goals.

Determine how you’ll pay for your gap year. A gap year doesn’t have to be expensive. You can find affordable options like seeking job opportunities and paid internships, taking part in financial aid programs, or applying for scholarships.

TIP: For more information on financing a gap year check out these links:

Gap Year After High School? Apply for College & Defer

Even though you are taking a gap year, it’s important to still apply for colleges. When you’ve been admitted into a school, the next step is to request a deferral. A student-requested college admission deferral is a request to delay admission to a college until a later date. You’ll need to defer to hold your place at your future school for after your gap year.

It’s better to request your deferral before accepting your place in the incoming class. There are many reasons for this, such as flexibility–or lack thereof–of educational funding, unforeseen circumstances and changes of plans, etc. The extra time gives you more flexibility for your future, in case your deferral is denied or plans change. Committing to a school before they’ve accepted your deferral can cause confusion and may even cancel your gap year, as the college was not aware of your plans and admitted you on the basis that you would begin classes in the upcoming semester.

TIP: Want to know more about deferring college enrollment? Check out this step-by-step instruction on the deferment process: “How to Defer University Acceptance” – WikiHow

How to Request a Deferral

Every college has different protocols for receiving deferral requests. It’s up to you to find out what requirements your college has for deferral. It’s common to require a deferral request letter – a letter describing how you plan to spend your gap year. It’s up to the college to approve a student’s request for a deferral, so you need to complete all of the necessary actions in order to ensure you’re given consideration.

TIP: Want to write a deferral request letter, but don’t know where to start? Check out The Art of Applying’s blog post, “How to Request an Admissions Deferral.”

Gap Year Ideas

Whether you’re traveling or getting to work, use your time to the fullest. Use this opportunity to gain skills and expand your knowledge. This is the perfect time to do things you’ve always wanted to do, like exploring places, hobbies, and career options.

Gap Year Jobs and & Internships

Consider taking advantage of opportunities to gain first-hand job experience. Interning in areas of interest gives you an in-depth look into what your field of interest has to offer. Getting a job can help you acclimate to the working world while making some money.

TIP: Job opportunities and paid internships are everywhere! Websites like The Intern Group, Glassdoor, and Idealist can help you find employers near you!

Gap Year Programs

For those interested in travel, there is much to observe and learn from other cultures. Study abroad programs help you travel, find work in other countries, and volunteer.

TIP: Study abroad programs are always looking for volunteers and participants! For those looking to spend their gap year outside of the U.S., check out organizations like International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), Projects Abroad, and Pacific Discovery.

Deciding to take a gap year can be an opportunity to explore career opportunities, travel abroad, and take time to reflect and prepare for your next chapter. Gap years are an important step in your academic career that can pave the way for future success. Embrace your decision to take some time for yourself and above all, enjoy the journey!

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

Works Cited

  1. Alwine, Rebecca. “What is a Gap Year & How Do You Take One?Go Overseas. Go Overseas, 2020. Web. 04 Oct. 2019.
  2. How to Take a Gap Year: Financing, Planning and More.” Discover. Discover Bank, Member FDIC, 2020. Web.
  3. Kern, Rebecca. “7 Questions to Ask When Considering a Gap Year.” U.S. News. U.S. News & World Report L.P., 2020. Web. 19 May. 2010.
  4. Flavin, Brianna. “What I Wish Someone Told Me Before Taking a Gap Year.” Rasmussen College. Rasmussen College, LLC., 2020. Web. 06 June. 2016.
  5. Franek, Rob. “Is Taking a Gap Year Before College Right For You?The Princeton Review. TPR Education IP Holdings, LLC., 2020. Web.
  6. Tank, Alisa. “Is Taking a Year Off College the End of the World?GoAbroad.com. GoAbroad.com, 1998. Web. 21 Nov. 2017.
  7. How to Request an Admissions Deferral.” The Art of Applying. The Art of Applying, 2020. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.
  8. Gap Year Financial Aid.” Gap Year Association. Gap Year Association, 2020. Web.
  9. Frot, Mathilde. “Seven Ways to Fund a Gap Year.” Top Universities. QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited, 1994-2020. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
  10. Blackman, Stacy. “How to Defer University Acceotance.” WikiHow. WikiHow, 2020. Web. 22 Apr. 2020

Tracking Shows Delivered, But No Package!

Porch Pirates are Real

When it comes to receiving a much-anticipated package, chances are you are eagerly monitoring its tracking to your doorstep. Then, if your tracking shows your item as “delivered”, but you haven’t received it, you’re going to be frustrated. At first, you may not know if the item is stolen or simply lost. Although it won’t truly help, you may take some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. A 2019 report showed that 36% of all consumers had a package lost or stolen – and the average consumer orders 45 packages a year. That’s a lot of lost packages.

Right away, here’s a breakdown of how most people handle this situation:

  • 83% of people contact the seller
  • 60% contact the carrier (UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc.)
  • 48% check with their neighbors
  • 13% call the police

You can also take further comfort in the knowledge that, if you report a package as stolen,  around 11% of the time the porch pirate is caught. So first, take a deep breath, then proceed below.

Tracking Numbers

It may sound obvious, but first look closely at your tracking number. Packages change hands from one carrier to another all the time, and it is sometimes hard to tell which carrier is tracking the actual delivery. For this reason, it’s best to first identify which type of tracking number you have in order to accurately track the delivery.

How to tell which carrier’s tracking number you actually have:

  • UPS – begins with “1Z”.
  • FedEx Ground & Express – 12 digits (no letters). 

PRO TIP: Your FedEx tracking number is also the 21st through 34th number of the barcode.

  • USPS – 22-34 digits (no letters).
    • USPS Priority Mail Select –13 characters long, beginning with two letters and ending with “US”.
  • UPS Mail Innovations Sequence Number – 18 digits assigned internally by UPS Mail Innovations or UPS Worldship. 
    • What is UPS Mail Innovations? UPS Mail Innovations is simply a service where the carrier is initially UPS, but then final delivery may be made by the postal service. If you were to track this number on the UPS website, it may only tell you when the item was handed off to USPS. You need to run the tracking number on USPS’s website to see accurate delivery data to the final destination.
  • Amazon Logistics – Amazon uses all of the above carriers for delivery, so you may receive one of the previously mentioned tracking numbers. However, they also deliver themselves via Amazon Logistics, whose tracking numbers start with “TBA”.

Once you know which tracking number you have, visit that specific carrier’s website to check delivery status. 

When is a Package Considered Lost?

Each carrier handles lost packages differently, but generally speaking, you are advised to wait between 2-7 days after the expected delivery date before taking action for a lost package (this is especially true during global pandemics). Sometimes things just arrive late, and Amazon even states that in rare cases, items can show as delivered up to 48 hours before the item actually arrives. 

Here’s a breakdown of how each carrier handles lost packages.

USPS Missing Mail

The USPS says that this is simply “mail that has not been delivered by the expected delivery date.” You first need to wait 7 days past the delivery date before you should take action. Then you can:

  • Try and get to the bottom of it yourself at their Missing Mail Page.
  • File a Missing Mail search request online here. You’ll need to create an account first, but then you’ll receive periodic updates on the search progress.
  • Visit your local Post Office for assistance, where they will help you fill out a paper version of the Missing Mail request.
  • Call 1-800-275-8755. You can then ask for the number of your local Consumer Affairs office and they can submit a missing mail request by phone.

Amazon Missing or Stolen Packages 

At eCampus.com, we do use Amazon to fulfill some of our orders and yes, even Amazon admits that this sometimes happens. Amazon considers an item “lost” after 48 hours past the expected delivery.  After that, they suggest that you take the following steps:

  • Check to see if your package was left with a neighbor or receptionist.
  • Verify the Shipping Address
  • Look for a Sign or Notice of Attempted Delivery
  • Look Around the Delivery Location (sometimes it’s just hidden out of view).
  • If you’re expecting a box, then check the mail, and vice versa. Some packages travel through multiple carriers.

UPS Missing  or Stolen Packages

For deliveries that don’t require a signature, UPS trains their delivery personnel to leave shipments in “a safe place at the drivers discretion”. This could include the front porch, side door, back porch, or garage area. They also state that drivers may leave items “on back porches, bushes, garages, grills, or other places that might protect your package from theft or weather.” 

Then, like the others, UPS requests that you wait 24 hours after the expected delivery date and time before taking action. Unlike USPS and Amazon, UPS does not have any online self-service to help locate packages. 

UPS does have a process for senders to file a UPS lost package claim, however, this is only if the package was sent via UPS the entire way. If the package changes hands (which is frequently the case) from one carrier to another (such as UPS to USPS) during transit, this option is not available. 

FedEx Missing  or Stolen Packages 

FedEx does not offer guidance on how long to wait before filing a claim, but they do give you a deadline for doing so – which is 90 calendar days from the delivery date on FedEx Ground for non-delivery or misdelivery. Like UPS, FedEx offers an online claims process for lost packages. Luckily, this process is entirely online and looks fairly simple to complete:

  1. Visit the FedEx lost package page to file a claim.
  2. Fill out the claim form. (You’ll need your tracking number.)
  3. Add supporting documentation for the item’s value.

PRO TIP: You don’t need to provide this documentation if the item is under $100 in value.

  1. Submit.
  2. Track the status of your claim online here.

Some FedEx customers have reported that it’s faster to do this by phone, by calling 1-800-463-3339. You’ll have to say “representative” a few times, and again, you’ll need your tracking number, but then you can speak to a live person who can open a claim for you.

What Does In-Transit Mean?

In-transit means that the item is on its way to you. This can remain the status until your item is successfully delivered. In rare cases, items can get stuck in transit. An item shouldn’t remain in any one sorting facility for more than 5 business days. If this is the case, you can reach out to the carrier and ask them to contact the sorting facility where the package is stuck so they can try to locate it for you.

What Else Can I Do for Stolen Packages?

If you have already tried everything that we’ve mentioned above, here are a few more – let’s say severe – actions you can take. All of these actions are focused towards “stolen” items, since lost packages will be primarily the concern of the carriers themselves.

  1. File a complaint with the Postal Inspection Service. By doing this you are essentially reporting a crime. The only difference between the USPIS and the police (they work together jointly) is that this organization deals exclusively with issues of this sort. Here’s what you can report online through the USPIS:
    • Mail Fraud
    • Identity Theft
    • Mail Theft
    • Suspicious Mail
  2. Use Purchase Protection on your Credit Card. If you purchased with a credit card, you may have purchase protections that cover lost or stolen items. However, there’s always the fine print such as:
    • May not cover items over $500.
    • Claim period is typically 90 days after purchase.
    • You’ll need receipts.
    • You may need to file a police report also.

Here are a few credit card companies that offer some version of purchase protection:

  • Visa Infinite
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Citi
  • Chase

Tips for Preventing Package Theft

If you live in an area with high theft, there are several steps you can take to make it harder for porch pirates to steal your packages.

  1. You can sign up to have items held at the carrier facility rather than have them delivered to your home. 
  2. You can ask carriers to not leave items at the door unless the person is home.
  3. You can sign up for alerts with the carriers to know exactly when items are going to be delivered.
  4. Buy a Security System. This will help in a number of ways:
    1. Help deter, identify & catch theft.
    2. Secure your home from burglars.
    3. Lower homeowners insurance costs.

In Conclusion

As you can see, you have lots of options. Hopefully this will help ease the pain of having a lost or stolen package and give you a clear path forward. Many of these methods may not work for your situation, but it only takes one of these solutions to help you get back either your property or your money. 

Did any of these solutions work for you? Did we miss one? If so, let us know!

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

Tips for Creating an Online Portfolio in College

What is a (Digital) Portfolio?

You’ve spent weeks, months, maybe even years developing skills, studying, and working—now you get to put your results on display.

So, what is a portfolio? An online portfolio (also known as a digital portfolio, electronic portfolio, e-portfolio, or e-folio) is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user, usually on the web. Such electronic evidence may include images, text, electronic files, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks.

Having a positive online presence is a huge advantage when it comes to applying for internships and jobs. Creating a portfolio website allows you to share and showcase your work easily for the employers you want to impress.

An online portfolio will increase your visibility and presence. It’s your chance to tell the world who you are as a creative, and delve into your projects, passions, and experiences. Using the flexibility of an online portfolio, you’re able to show your personality by choosing the design, layout, and the copy you write.

It also makes it easier for clients and potential employers to reach out to you. Especially in the digital age, you want to be able to network and link yourself to others in the most convenient way possible. Since we rely on technology, it’s good to show that you have this online presence.

How to Create a Portfolio

1. Pick the Right Online Platform (Best Free Portfolio Websites)

Wix, WordPress, and Weebly, oh my! There are many websites that allow users to create a free online portfolio straight from their free portfolio website templates. 

Here are a few of the best portfolio websites out there right now: 

  • Wix: An all-in-one website builder that’s perfect for beginners and non-coders. Wix lets you build a professional looking website quickly and easily, providing pre-designed templates, built-in security, and in-house features.
  • WordPress: A powerful content management system (CMS), which offers plenty of responsive themes to showcase your work. If you want complete creative control over your portfolio, this is a good option for you.
  • Weebly: A drag-and-drop web builder with around 40 modern, fully-customizable website themes and elements.

It is helpful to take a look at online portfolio examples by other people in your specific creative area or industry. For example, if you’re an aspiring artist – try Googling “Art Portfolio Website.” You might find something similar to what you envision, in which case you’ll be able to customize it and make it your own. If you’d rather start from a blank canvas, you can always build your website from scratch and enjoy complete freedom to express yourself online.

2. Keep the Design Simple

When designing a portfolio, you want a website that is straightforward. You want your content to be the focal point, rather than a distracting design. Your actual work is the core of your online portfolio, so make sure to showcase it in the best way possible. It should stand out and be easily reachable through the homepage.

Your homepage is also your chance to stir the curiosity of potential clients and employers with a powerful introductory sentence. Make it short and sweet, clearly expressing who you are and what you do. There’s no need to go into your biographical details here (that’s what your “About” page is for), but your name and main area of expertise are a must.

It’s helpful to add a short written description for each project, so that visitors can get a sense for the context of your work. Mention your role, as well as any of your collaborators. 

Run your website by a trusted peer and mentor for some insight and fresh ideas. Get some honest feedback about your content, visuals, and ease of navigation. 

3. Choose Quality Over Quantity

Cramming everything you’ve ever done into your personal portfolio may be tempting, but most employers would advise against it. Consider what to put on a personal website, picking only your absolute best pieces to show, trusting them to showcase your strongest work and highlight your talents. Showcasing a limited amount of projects allows you to present each one thoroughly.

Tell the story with less on your portfolio. For example, include links to your top 10 articles, not top 100. Wait for a prospective employer to request the rest. Once someone is interested in your work, you will have plenty of time to give them more information.

Consider listing any distinctive elements that give you an edge, such as press or awards. Having good recommendations is always a big plus so if you can include any of the testimonials from the clients you’ve worked with in the past, it can add a lot of credibility to your online portfolio.

Don’t forget to put emphasis on the types of projects you’d be interested in working on in the future. 

4. Update the Mobile Version 

People often forget about the huge amount of users who are likely to be viewing their site from a smartphone. In fact, mobile devices account for 52% of web page views worldwide. So it’s important to make sure you’ve devoted time to perfecting their user experience, too.

One of the major challenges designers face when it comes to their online presence is ensuring it will be mobile compatible. And since a mobile website is more than just “web design made smaller,” there are a few rules to keep in mind when designing for mobile. 

Best practices for designing your mobile website include:

  • Declutter the website version of your site, keeping only the most crucial elements visible on mobile
  • Pay attention to the fonts and colors you use and make sure they’re legible 
  • Reduce the amount of typing required by adding a search bar to ease navigation

5. Make Your Portfolio Searchable 

Your beautiful work deserves to be seen online – and the best way to go about it is by upping your SEO (or “Search Engine Optimization”). By following a set of simple rules, you can work towards improving your design portfolio’s ranking on Google search results.

Some of the best practices for improving your portfolio’s SEO are:

  • Choose a good domain name. Your domain name is how visitors will find, remember and share your page on the internet. Using something simple like your first and last name, or your creative niche will prove helpful with branding and marketing. 
  • Do keyword research to find the right keywords for your site. Keywords are the most commonly searched phrases on Google when people are looking for creatives such as yourself. Once you’ve done some keyword research, use these phrases in strategic places throughout your website.
  • Write alt text for your images. Short for alternative text, alt text is a brief description of your site’s images and photos. Writing SEO-friendly alt text can also help improve your website’s accessibility. You’re likely to have visual elements on your online portfolio, so use this opportunity to integrate your keywords into your alt text.
  • Write titles and descriptions (known as metadata) for each of your design portfolio’s pages. 

6. Share Your Contact Information 

After you’ve captured a visitor’s attention with your site, make sure they can easily contact you. Add any of the following elements to ensure you’re reachable: a contact form, your email, phone numbers and links to your social media.

These can be featured as part of your menu, in a dedicated contact page or as a pinned element on the side of the screen. It’s also highly recommended to repeat your contact details in your website footer, offering visitors a final invitation to get in touch.

7. Utilize Social Media

Social media is a two-way channel where you have an opportunity to build a rapport with your prospective clients. Social networking is all about interactions, creating open dialogue, and building genuine relationships with your community.

If you want to grow your network, consider including social media buttons in your portfolio as they will be a huge help in building stronger connections and keeping your clients and followers updated at all times. 

Including buttons to share your work on social media can help bring more exposure and an audience to your site. Promote your work on social media whenever you add new projects to draw attention to fresh work as well as your overall portfolio. 

If you are including your personal social media on your professional online portfolio, remember to keep it professional and appropriate.

8. Keep it Updated

Keep in mind that your work doesn’t end with just creating a great portfolio – make sure to regularly update it. As you create new and better work, make additions to showcase your latest projects, but with the same focus on careful curation.

This will also show visitors that you’re active and working. When first creating an online portfolio, consider how you can build a design portfolio that is easy to update, letting you comfortably add new projects as you go.

A successful portfolio finds that perfect blend of your personality, prominence of work, simplicity, and ease of use that makes your portfolio stand out from the crowd and achieve your goals. A well-made, creative portfolio makes all the difference between making a fine first impression and a truly great one! 

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

References:

  1. https://www.wix.com/blog/creative/2018/04/how-to-make-online-design-portfolio-guide
  2. https://99u.adobe.com/articles/7127/6-steps-to-creating-a-knockout-online-portfolio 
  3. https://www.pagecloud.com/blog/how-to-build-your-online-portfolio 
  4. https://collegeinfogeek.com/online-portfolio/ 
  5. https://websitesetup.org/make-online-portfolio/
  6. https://www.statista.com/statistics/306528/share-of-mobile-internet-traffic-in-global-regions/ 

9 Money Saving Tips for College Students on a Budget

By: Kayla Gowan

Let’s face it: college is expensive. Between tuition, housing, student fees, transportation, and textbooks – the costs add up quickly. For many college students, this is the first time you have to budget and manage money on your own. 

Managing money and setting budgetary goals may seem like the last things you want to do at the end of a busy day filled with classes and exams, but developing good habits is worth the effort. Managing in-college spending is a learning experience. Fortunately, there are many ways you can save money while in college. 

Here are the nine best money-saving tips for college students:

1. Rent Your Textbooks

Buying textbooks can be one of the biggest expenses every semester. One huge way to save money in college is to rent textbooks instead of buying them! With eCampus.com – you can save up to 90% off the regular price of a new textbook. eCampus.com also has three rental term lengths (short term, quarter term, and semester) to fit every student’s schedule and the ability to extend or purchase the rental at the end of the rental term.

If you’ve already purchased your textbooks, when the semester is over – you can sell your books back to eCampus.com for cash!

2. Apply for Grants and Scholarships

Start by filling out the FAFSA before each new school year, regardless of your family’s financial status, to tap into federal, state and institutional grants and scholarships. 

You can apply for scholarships and grants every year throughout college! It’s a misconception that scholarships are only for first-year students. In fact, many colleges have systems in place that reward students financially for good grades, volunteering, being an active part of the college town community, and many other things. Given that many scholarships go unclaimed (or have very few entries), if you dedicate some time to applying, you could find yourself saving on tuition costs! 

If you’re not sure where to find scholarships, the Federal Student Aid has compiled a list of places to look that you can view here. For more information about how financial aid works, you can read our eCampus blog post here.

3. Create a Budget

If you don’t know where your money is going every month, you’ll never know the true potential of your saving power! Start off small by giving yourself a weekly budget and see how close you come to accurately estimating expenses. Work on creating a realistic budget that you can stick to, incorporating all regular bills or payments. A budget isn’t set in stone and often takes several tries to get right – so keep working on it until you find the right balance!

A lack of structure can keep you from being on top of managing your spending and can mean disaster for your budget. Fortunately, there are a number of free budgeting apps to help.

3 Apps to Help with Budgeting for College Students

  • Mint: This money management and financial planning app lets you see all of your accounts in one place. You can swipe to check your balances or get reminders to pay your bills on time! 
  • Pocketguard: This app lets you see all of your mobile banking, including credit cards, checking and savings, loans, and investments in one place. After you’ve paid the bills, the app tells you how much you have left over, so you can save the rest! 
  • Personal Capital: Like Mint and Pocketguard, this app allows you to see all of your accounts on one platform. On this app, you can see separate graphs of your cash flow (income vs. expenses), your budget (what you’re spending your money on), and your investments.

4. Split the Cost of Rent with Roommates

Living with roommates is the quintessential college experience. This is helpful for many students as you can split the cost of rent and utilities with one or more roommates.

Make a point to know what’s already provided in your future dorm or apartment. Some dorm rooms come equipped with a microwave or small fridge or an ironing board in the laundry facilities. An apartment might already come with appliances or even basic furniture. Coordinate with your roommates before shopping so you’re not double-buying items or buying things you don’t need.

Take good care of your apartment so you don’t forfeit your security deposit at the end of the semester!

5. Cook Your Own Food

Eating at restaurants can be one of the most expensive items in your budget. It’s almost always cheaper to cook than it is to go out to eat. While a dinner for $5-10 may sound cheap, it really does add up over time.

How Much do College Students Spend on Food?

The cost of a meal plan has doubled in the last 10 years. The average college and university charges about $4,500, or $18.75 per day, for a three-meal-a-day dining contract that covers the eight months or so of a typical academic year.

You can probably cook the same meal (and prep for future meals) for about half the price. If you do eat out, go for lunch or happy hour when restaurants are most likely to be offering discounts.

That goes for coffee, too! Let’s say you spend $5 on a daily cup of coffee – this can equal up to $375 per semester. Save the bank by investing in a coffee machine and making your morning brew from home! 

6. Use Public Transportation

Parking, gas, and insurance for your car can quickly add up. Many college campuses have free buses and shuttles that help students get around campus and even to nearby apartments. Some schools even have rentable bikes or scooters for the semester!

If you need public transportation to get around, see if you can get a student pass. Many colleges partner with their local transit authorities and offer student discounts and student passes for busses, subways, trolleys, and more.

7. Use Student Discounts

Don’t leave home without your student ID! Most places offer a student discount – this can include restaurants, shops, movie theaters, theme parks, and more!

Another big expense for college students is technology. Many students want (or need) to get a new laptop. Plus, some classes require their own specific software that you need to install. Often, technology companies offer significant discounts to students – from Apple and Microsoft, to Adobe and more. If you’re getting any type of new computer or software, make sure to buy it through the education store and get your student discount.

Click here is a list of the top 60 discounts available to students right now! If you’re not sure whether a company offers a student discount, there’s no harm in asking. Better “save” than sorry!

8. Utilize Campus Resources

Check out the amenities that are free for students to use on campus. Campus resources are designed to make college easier, but that’s only the case if you use them!

  • Student Gym: working out and staying fit is important in college. Instead of spending money on a gym membership, see if your campus offers the use of the student gym for free. Most campuses have great athletic and gym facilities available to students. Take full advantage!
  • On-Campus Printing: printing is another area that can be costly, with papers eating up ink cartridges at home. Oftentimes, the cost of printing is included in your student facility fees. Check the school library to see if they offer free or discounted printing.
  • Campus Library: one of the most under-used, but best free tools on a college campus is the library. College libraries have everything, including books, computer stations, software, and more. Libraries also offer free spaces to study, meet with group members, or use the computer. 

Other commonly provided resources include tutoring, counseling, childcare, and career services. Check what your college offers before you pay extra for the same service elsewhere.

9. Take Advantage of Campus Activities

Going out every weekend can drain your entertainment budget very quickly. Instead, keep up with what’s happening on campus. Most colleges organize plenty of events throughout the semester, ranging from museum visits, to movie nights, and more for free or discounted rates.

Check the events page on your school website to see what’s up and coming. You can also look for signs and promotions around your campus. These signs often promote free food in an attempt to get students to come. If you do this regularly, you can probably get your lunch taken care of most days! And maybe even learn something! 

Bonus: Attending campus events is a great way to make new friends, too!

While saving money as a college student is not always easy, it is possible with plenty of hard work and a commitment to your financial security and wellbeing. Meeting your budgetary goals will not only help your college experience, but prepare you for a bright financial future!

Be sure to connect with us @ecampusdotcom on Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook for more resources, tips, and some great giveaways! And when it’s time for textbooks, eCampus.com has you covered for all your course material needs at savings up to 90%!

References:

  1. https://turbo.intuit.com/blog/real-money-talk/how-to-save-money-in-college-1539/ 
  2. https://www.debt.org/students/college-budgeting-101/ 
  3. https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/student-guide-to-budgeting/ 
  4. https://thecollegeinvestor.com/22453/save-money-in-college/ 
  5. https://www.thesimpledollar.com/financial-wellness/63-quick-tips-to-save-money-in-college/