money

Best Sites to Buy College Textbooks

In the 2018-2019 academic year alone, the National Association of College Stores reported that on average, students spent $415 on required course materials per year. While this may seem high, the cost of required materials has actually fallen -40% since 2007 thanks to online textbook retailers like us (eCampus has been in business since 1999). Despite the high cost of these items, many students do more research on where to go for dinner than they do on where to buy their course materials. 

After COVID-19 closed most physical bookstores worldwide, even more students began the shift to shopping online for course materials. Amazon may be your first choice due to its familiarity and fast shipping. But before you rent a textbook, ask yourself: Does Amazon know what my finals schedule will be? Will I be required to return the book before I’m finished using it? Do they really have the best price?

This is where it might be better to rent your book from a dedicated online textbook retailer like…us. But don’t take our word for it! We’ve compiled a few key factors to consider when shopping for online textbooks. 

Check out our helpful chart below and see how these top 4 online textbook retailers compare to one another.

Top Online Textbooks Sites

Online Textbook Site Comparison

*Updated June 2020

Major Advantages of Using eCampus.com

  • You have the ability to pick the rental due date that best fits your needs! eCampus.com 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. When renting from Amazon or Chegg, you’re only able to choose from one fixed due date set on their site and would be required to pay additional extension fees if you need your book for longer than their due date allows.
  • eCampus.com has an enticing rewards program (eWards), while most other booksellers don’t have a rewards program at all. Earning points with eCampus.com eWards is easy and free. Just sign up using your email address and you are ready to get started. Earn points when you make purchases, refer a friend, follow us on Twitter, and more. Receive exclusive deals on future orders when you trade in your eWards points – you can save up to $20 on your purchase through eWards points redemption. Get started today and start saving money! Learn more here: eCampus.com eWards Program
  • eCampus.com is the most-trusted bookseller among the student community.
  • You can sell your books back to us or on the eCampus.com Marketplace after you’re done. We make it easy to get cash for your old textbooks. Selling your used books to eCampus.com is as simple as getting a quote, selecting your payment method, shipping the books to us (for free), and getting paid. If you want more information about selling your books, click here to view our blog post on everything you need to know when it comes to selling books.
  • You can buy from other students/independent sellers on our marketplace at greatly reduced prices. eCampus.com allows third party individuals, including students, to sell their inventory through our Marketplace.
  • eCampus.com has been in business since 1999 – and leverages unique publisher relationships for the best pricing. Use eCampus.com to save up to 90% off standard publisher list prices.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • Does Amazon Sell Used Books?
    • Yes. Amazon allows for new, used, and rental textbook sales.
  • Can you highlight Amazon Books?
    • Amazon does allow books to be highlighted, however, they say this must be kept to “a minimal amount”. Since this is a very subjective phrase, you must be careful. If you highlight too much, you’ll be paying for the full cost of the book. At eCampus, we tell you exactly what is acceptable – which is no more than ⅓ of the book may be highlighted. 
  • Can you write in Amazon Books?
    • Again, this is allowed, but must be kept to a “minimal amount”. Amazon does not make it clear what exactly that means.
  • How long does Chegg take to ship?
    • Chegg standard delivery is 7 to 10 business days.
  • Is AbeBooks Owned by Amazon?
    • Yes. AbeBooks was purchased by Amazon in December 2008. While Amazon allows textbook rentals, AbeBooks.com does not. 

In Summary

We all have different priorities when it comes to buying things online. Maybe you waited until the last minute and you are needing your book yesterday. In that case, you may look towards Amazon for it’s fast shipping. Maybe you are really strapped for cash and want to get the best deal on a rental and you like to make a few highlights and notes in your book. In that case you probably want to look at eCampus.com.

Whatever your priorities are, we hope this gives you a bit more information to go on when you go to order your textbooks. If you have other questions, our experienced team of customer service agents can help guide you through phone or chat. 

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%!

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/ 

FAFSA – How Does Financial Aid Work?

Financial Aid Definition

According to Wikipedia, student financial aid in the United States is funding that is available exclusively to students attending a post-secondary educational institution in the United States.

The Office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $120 BILLION in aid each year to help pay for college or trade school. This aid can come from a variety of sources, however, there is only one way to access these funds – by using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

When to Apply for FAFSA

The FAFSA filing timeframe always begins October 1st the year BEFORE you plan to attend school. So if you plan to attend college in fall of 2021, you can file as early as October 1st, 2020. Typically applications continue to be accepted through June 30th the year you plan to attend. 

PRO TIP: You’ll want to make sure to file as early as possible, because many states and some colleges award financial aid on a first come first served basis. 

To make things easy, here’s some upcoming filing deadlines. Go ahead and put these in your calendar:

  • June 30, 2021 | FAFSA Deadline for the 2021-22 Academic Year
  • June 30, 2020 | FAFSA Deadline for the 2020-21 Academic Year

What are the Types of Federal Student Aid?

Student aid is not always “free money” – in fact usually it’s not! It’s important to understand the differences between aid types and, more importantly, how they impact your pre and post education finances.

Grants

These are the only types of federal student aid that don’t need to be repaid – so pay attention to these. Within this category, there are 4 different types of grants. Maybe you’ve heard of a few of these:

  1. Pell Grant – The average amount is $4,271 (these figures are usually given on a ‘per year’ basis) and is primarily for undergraduates who have the greatest “financial need”.

PRO TIP: You’re going to see the words “financial need” appear a lot in the student aid requirements. If you’re wondering what that means, the department of education defines this as:

Financial need is simply defined as the difference between the student’s cost of attendance (COA) and the family’s ability to pay these costs. Note that the student’s financial need will be reduced by aid that is awarded to the student.

  1. Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) – This is often awarded in addition to the Pell Grant, so if you qualify for one, you’re a priority for the other. For this reason, the amount is smaller – around $599 per year.
  2. Teacher Education Assistance (TEACH) Grant – It makes sense that educators would lobby to award aid to future educators. This is the purpose of the TEACH grant – focused exclusively to high need students in teaching programs, especially elementary or secondary school levels.
  3. Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant – Awarded to students whose parent or guardian was a member of the armed forces and died as a result of performing military service in Iraq, Afghanistan, or on 9/11.

Loans

If you are just graduating high school, are looking at college, and you don’t have extraordinary “financial need” but also don’t have $35,000, then chances are you probably don’t have much of a credit history either. At least not enough to secure a traditional loan for $35,000 (that’s the average cost of a 4-year degree by the way). Banks would normally never loan this much to a person with little to no financial history.

This is the main reason for the government-created William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program. Using this program, you can borrow money directly from the U.S. Department of Education rather than a bank. Like federal grants, there are also 4 different types of federal loans – but unlike grants, these will need to be repaid with interest:

  1. Direct Subsidized – These loans are made available to undergraduate students that can demonstrate “financial need”.

PRO TIP: “Subsidized” means having part of the cost paid to keep your cost low.

  1. Direct Unsubsidized – These loans are made available to students who don’t need to demonstrate “financial need” to be eligible.
  2. Direct PLUS Loans – If you don’t qualify for other types of federal student aid, you probably still qualify for this type of loan program. This is primarily for students and parents of students, who may have some credit history.
  3. Direct Consolidation Loans –  Most students require multiple sources of financing to afford college. This program allows you to roll all of your loans together under one servicer, and sometimes at a reduced interest rate.

PRO TIP:  On a standard 10-year repayment plan, a borrower  will pay $6,405 in interest or about $641 per year. Pay attention to interest rates! Source

Work-Study

Just like the name implies, a federal work-study job is there to help you earn your way through school. These are primarily community service related and possibly even something related to your field of study (it depends on your school). These jobs are always part-time and only offered while you’re enrolled.

Your FAFSA Application

Now that you know what types of college financial aid you can expect, it’s time to take the first step and visit the FAFSA Website where you will begin your application. Here’s a quick overview of the steps involved:

  1. Create a FSA ID, Username, and Password (and keep this somewhere safe).
  2. Gather Documents
    1. SSN
    2. Parent’s SSN (if you’re a dependent)
    3. Driver’s License Number
    4. Alien Registration Number (if applicable)
    5. Tax Info, such as tax returns and W-2.
    6. Income information for both you and you’re parents.
    7. Info on how much cash & savings you have.
  3. Use the documents to fill out the application
    1. Online at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.
    2. On your phone using the myStudentAid mobile app.
    3. On paper by printing/mailing the FAFSA PDF.
  4. List the colleges and schools you’re interested in.
  5. Report Parents’ Info (if you’re a dependent student)

PRO TIP: You’re going to be asked a number of times if you are a dependent or independent student. If you aren’t sure, you can look this up here.

  1. Provide Your Financial Info
  2. Sign & Submit

FAFSA Customer Service

Here are all the contacts to get help with filling out your applications:

Student Aid Report (SAR)

Next, you’ll receive a report that details your eligibility for aid and is typically sent within 3-10 days, depending on how you submitted it (longer if you filled out the paper version). The SAR will NOT tell you how much money you will need to pay for college nor will it tell you how much aid you will receive. The name is misleading, but this report is mainly something you’ll want to check for accuracy, because it is used in calculations to determine those things.

Financial Aid Award Letters

Now for the fun part! 

Award letters come from the colleges that you applied to, and usually become available 1-3 months after you submitted your application. This will explain the total amount of money a school will offer you. They won’t all come at once, but you should start getting these shortly after your acceptance letters.

Here’s the order in which you should be accepting aid:

  1. Free Money (Grants)
  2. Earned Money (Work-Study)
  3. Federal Student Loans
  4. State/School-specific Loans
  5. Private Loans

The award letter will detail next steps for how to accept aid. Keep in mind that the timeline for receiving the money varies widely depending on the type of aid. Work-Study for example, will only pay after your first week on the job, which is usually AFTER you have started classes.

In Conclusion

This process is time-consuming, confusing, and often frustrating. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the benefits of both your education and the aid you receive for that education, more than compensate for your efforts. For many students, this will be one of the first steps into adulthood. You can do this – we believe in you!

Was this helpful? Did we miss something? Do you have something to add? If so let us know!

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @ecampusdotcom.

Life Skills College Doesn’t Teach You

When entering the real world after college, many recent graduates are unprepared for the real world and lack basic life skills and knowledge. This isn’t always the fault of the education system or a lack of effort. There are simply some things that we need to know that we are not taught in traditional education. Rather we must make an effort to learn these skills ourselves and must ready ourselves for the real world. Here are five important life skills all students should be taught before graduating college in order to be ready for the real world.

How to Prepare for An Interview

life skills - interview

One of the most important aspects of the real world is knowing how to prepare for a job interview. It is important to know how to dress oneself properly and appropriately and how to behave within an interview. Although past experience and knowledge are very important in getting a job, the interview itself is how employers decide whether or not you are suitable for the job.  Before going to an interview it is of vital importance to do proper research on the company, the position itself, and the culture of the position.

How to Do Your Own Taxes

life skills - taxes

Although many people rely on personal accountants to do their taxes for them, it is important to at least have a grasp on how to go about doing your own taxes. Everyone has to do them and by learning how to do them, you can save money by not hiring someone else to do something that you can do yourself. If you are employed and earning money you will have to file taxes. Understanding how taxes affect your income and whether or not you are being taxed too much or too little is quite important.

How to Cook Proper Meals

life skills - cooking

In college it is possible to skate by with only knowing a couple basic meals or by relying on meal plans or the traditional ramen noodle diet that college students seem to go with quite often.  Once in the real world it is necessary to not only know how to cook for yourself, but to know how to prepare healthy meals that get you all the nutrients and vitamins that you need. By learning how to cook proper meals you can not only keep yourself healthy, but can also save quite a bit of money by cutting down on how often you eat out.

How to Manage Money

life skills - money

Many college students have never had much financial freedom and have had their parents either handle their finances completely or control them for the most part. In the real world, it is necessary to keep track of what you are spending and earning in order to ensure that you have enough to make it through the month or to do the little things you want to do. Investing in a basic finance course or enlisting the help of a friend to teach you how to handle money is a great idea. It is also a smart idea to learn a little more about banking and to learn to budget expenses monthly and weekly.

How to Balance Social and Work Life

life skills - work life balance

One of the worst mistakes that recent graduates make is focusing too much on either the social or professional aspects of their lives.  Some focus wholeheartedly on work, putting all of their effort into furthering their career without leaving time for relationships and friends. On the other hand, many do not know how to focus on their work without cutting down on the social life that they enjoyed during college, and struggle to either find a job or keep up with their work life. Just because you have graduated doesn’t mean your social life needs to be over. However, it doesn’t mean that focusing on work isn’t important. It is imperative to find a healthy balance between the two.

Although it is important to enjoy college and the freedom that you enjoy, it is also necessary to learn a few life skills that are of the uttermost importance.  Doing so will help you find success upon graduating.

10 Ways to Fight Summer Boredom

We all know that when it comes summer and everything is winding down, it can be pretty easy to slip into the feeling of not wanting to do anything.  However, once you’ve arrived at that point, it doesn’t take long until not doing anything morphs into being bored.  While it is perfectly acceptable to feel that you have deserved a break after duking it out with the school year, don’t let too much of a “good” thing bore you down!  Try some of these ideas to still maintain the freedom of a vacation, but also keep your summer exiting and memorable.

1. Travel

Planning a fun road trip with some high school friends, or perhaps college friends who live nearby, is a great option and relatively inexpensive if you split the gas cost amongst four or five people.  Another alterative could be driving to visit other friends a few cities away, which then provides you with a place to stay overnight without having to pay hotel/motel fees.  Or, if you’ve decided to save up for a travel splurge, going abroad or flying domestically – either to tour or visit friends – is very rewarding and calls for a great way to spend some of your vacation.

2. Get a Job

While working isn’t always the ideal way to spend a summer, the money racked in can more than make up for it.  A summer job doesn’t necessarily have to be related to retail or food service.  There are a lot of opportunities to make good money but also enjoy what you’re doing (but that’s not to say that some retail and food service jobs will never meet that criteria!).  Working at a day camp or water park is a good option if you like working with kids.  You can serve either as a counselor or a lifeguard, be able to relax in the sun all day, but still earn your keep.  Babysitting is another viable option if you have the qualifications and the ability to reach out to your community as a trusted sitter.

3. Do Some Summer Cleaning

If you’re one of those people (like me!) who enjoy cleaning out that cluttered basement or garage, take on one of those projects this summer.  It’s a great way to be on your feet and concentrate on a worthwhile task at the same time.  Once the space is cleared, you can even decorate and make the place more “live-able”—who knows, you might have just created a new summer hangout spot!  Even better, your parents may offer to pay you a small sum for the service.

4. Make Some Money off of Your Clutter

Once you’ve cleaned out that living space, you’re probably going to find a lot of old furniture/toys/clothing that you don’t really need anymore (or didn’t even remember having as a kid!).  Talk it over with your parents and see if a garage sale might not be a bad idea.  Other options for your nicer furnishings are to take them to a consignment store in your area.  These stores will typically accept and display your belongings on the storefront for a specified amount of time (perhaps 60-90 days on average) and cut you part of the profits if they sell.  Many other thrift stores will pay you cash on the spot for your items (usually in the clothing and toys category).  Hop online and type in those keywords and your zip code to find such places near you.

5. Earn Money by Taking Surveys

On those slow days when you’re not sure what to do, and feel like making some extra cash, enroll in a few online survey websites that pay you by check or by PayPal for the redemption of a certain amount of points.  This is fun if you already love sharing your opinion.  However, always check first to make sure the site is legitimate (there are scams out there, after all).  The best way to do this is by searching for reviews online by people who have used the site, and likewise by checking the Better Business Bureau website for accreditation.  Once you find the right survey site, you can take multiple questionnaires that may award you points immediately so that the site knows what kind of surveys to match you up with.  It is also recommended by survey takers that you join multiple panels to yield better results and increase the amount of surveys that you qualify for (you will screen out after the first few questions if your answers don’t match the type of person the survey giver wants).  Despite that, if you put the time and effort into it, you can rack up enough points that can be redeemed for a cash payout, or other type of reward.  Just make sure you understand how each site regulates their points/payout system, and you’re good to go!  You won’t get rich off of this by any means, but you may make some spending money.

6. Take on a Crafting Project

I’m also one of those people who love being creative.  One of my early summer projects this month was making a T-shirt quilt out of some old shirts I found shoved into the back of my dresser.  Seeing as I already had sewing materials, the shirts, and one black throw blanket to sew them onto, it only cost me approximately $15 to complete:  $10 for another black throw to sew as the back of the quilt, and $5 for some quilt batting from the local crafting store.  It’s an excellent way to keep yourself busy and make something useful at the same time!

7. Exercise

Whether it’s joining a local gym for the summer, jogging around the neighborhood, or exercising at home, keeping active is a great way to avoid gaining weight during a summer of being stagnant, and to promote positive energy and self-esteem.  Exercising outside especially helps you to get a safe amount of sun (as long as you monitor how long you’re outside and make sure to wear sunscreen) and release more endorphins.  Make it a group activity when you can as well.  Exercising in a social setting can make the act of exercising in itself more enjoyable and doable.  And in the end, who doesn’t want to come back to school in the fall looking their best?

8. Attend a Seminar or Workshop

If there’s something you’re really interested in but don’t have time to pursue at school, summer is the perfect opportunity to let that interest take hold.  If you like art or writing, for example, take some summer writing workshops or art classes that may be offered at your local library or on a nearby school’s campus.  Explore something you’ve always wanted to try, but just never had the time to.

9. Explore the City

I never knew how many attractions were available in my own hometown until after I had already gone away to college.  When I came home for my first summer, many of my college friends who were also from my hometown (but had attended other high schools), showed me a wide array of places I had never been to.  Keep an eye out for areas of town that have great restaurants, bars, and clubs for that fun Friday night with your friends—but also check for some good theatre, museums, and concerts that you may have never known existed.  Larger city parks (like, for me, Forest Park in St. Louis) usually house more than one of these attractions, so just by traveling to one area you can discover a multitude of fun activities.  But as always, remember to stay in a group if you’re in an unfamiliar part of town.  Be safe—while also being classy!

10. Take Some “You” Time!

While it’s great to have an eventful summer, remember to relax and focus on you.  Some alone time can be a good thing.  Keep a journal, decorate your room, shop around the mall—do something that you enjoy that doesn’t necessarily have to be done with other people all the time.

Your entire summer shouldn’t be limited to these ten things, but the most important concept is making sure that you maintain an active summer but also get that feeling of elation.  After all, you did make it through that school year; perhaps you didn’t get all the grades you wanted, or perhaps you were more stressed out than you would have liked.  But regenerating over the summer can certainly lead to a more positive school year in the fall.  The more relaxed and prepared you are for the upcoming semester, the more successful you will be.