How To Survive First-Year Of College Or University

Feeling nervous about going off to college or university? Looking for a few tips on how to survive first-year? Learn about the biggest Do’s and Don’ts of post-secondary survival in today’s blog post.

There’s no doubt about it, starting college or university as a first-year student can be a daunting experience. 

After all, it’s an entirely different world than what you’ve ever known, filled with all sorts of new experiences and opportunities. And as exciting as that may seem, it can be a little discomforting at first. 

But the truth is that starting your first year of school doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable experience. And I swear to you that freshman year isn’t nearly as scary as you might think it’s going to be.

It’s just going to take a bit of getting used to. That’s all. 

So with that in mind, we’ve put together the following guide on surviving your first year of college or university. In today’s post, we’re going to take a look at both the biggest Do’s and Don’ts of how to survive first-year. 

Survive First-Year

The Do’s 

Do Attend Class

With the inherent shellshock of starting your first year of college or university, it’s not uncommon for students to feel overwhelmed while trying to balance their new school schedule with their existing lives. 

And when this happens, it’s easy to try and make up for some time by skipping out on a few classes here and there. But it’s important to know that attending your classes is essential to graduating your course. 

Not only do some courses actually count your attendance and participation as part of your grade, but by skipping classes, you’ll also miss out on an abundance of important information that you need to graduate, which is after all why you signed up for school in the first place. 

Do Explore 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re attending school from home or studying in a new city, it’s easy to feel like you’re in a completely new place during your first year of post-secondary. 

That’s why it’s important to take some extra time to get out and explore your school’s campus to find out what it really has to offer. 

And although it’s important for you to explore just to get your bearings straight, you’ll also have the opportunity to meet other students, just like you. Which brings me to my next point… 

man standing on rooms pathway

Do Know You’re Not Alone

During freshman year, especially if you’re studying in a new city, it’s easy to feel as if you’re the only person in the world who feels the way you do. But for first-year students, this isn’t true in any way, shape or form. 

In fact, there are probably more first-year students at your school than there are sophomores, and seniors combined. 

So make sure you’re not sitting around letting yourself believe that you’re all alone, or that you’ll never meet any new people.

Put yourself out there and start socializing. While you’re out exploring, visit your school’s student center, just to say hello and see what’s happening around campus.

Your school’s library or cafeteria are also great places to meet other students. 

Regardless, go where other students go, and you’re sure to end up meeting a friend or two! In reality, meeting new people and learning to socialize is also an important part of how to survive first-year.

The Don’ts

Don’t Overuse Social Media

Today, we’ve become so connected via the internet that it’s often easy to lose focus of our priorities. 

I mean, how many times have you caught yourself staying up later than you wanted to just because you got distracted browsing through Facebook or Instagram? Or, how often have you made plans to study, and then found yourself taking selfies and watching your friend’s Snapchat stories all day?

Survive First-Year

I’m not saying that you need to give up social media completely. But you need to make sure that it’s not consuming too much of your time or affecting any of your schoolwork. 

Your post-secondary education is one of the biggest and most important parts of your life’s journey. So don’t ruin it because you were too busy trying to snap that perfect selfie. 

Don’t Neglect Study Time

Post-secondary life can be hectic. Whether you’re juggling a job, a family, extracurricular activities, or just have a busy social life with your friends, it’s easy to feel like you just don’t have enough time to sit down and study. 

But no matter what type of life you’re living, it’s important to create a study schedule and stick to it.

This means blocking out a few study sessions and spacing them out throughout the week, which makes it easy to balance studying with the rest of your personal life. 

Find affordable textbooks here.

Don’t Have Any Fun

I’m just kidding… 

In fact, the best advice for surviving your first is to relax, have fun, and to enjoy the opportunity that you have. After all, you only get to live through freshman year once.

But while it is important to enjoy your first year, it’s still crucial that you keep your education as your main focus throughout the year. 

So go out and socialize with your friends, dance your heart, sing karaoke… But just make sure that your fun time isn’t having a negative effect on your studies. 

group of people in front of stage

How To Survive First-Year

It doesn’t matter who you are, your first year of college or university is going to be a bit nervewracking. 

But that doesn’t mean it needs to be a struggle. 

And by focusing on what’s the most important throughout the year, your first year of college can be one of the best, most formative years of your life. 

So make sure to prioritize school, relax, have fun, and make freshman year one of the most unforgettable years of your life. 

Best Student Reads For 2020

Looking for a wholesome way to fill in your free time this semester? Check out our list of the best student reads in 2020.

There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a book you just can’t put down.  

Maybe you’ve simply had a long day. Or, maybe your homework has taken its final toll on your brain for the night and you’re ready to unwind. 

Maybe you’re seeking some motivation, inspiration, and direction for your future. Or, maybe you’re feeling lonely and homesick. 

Or maybe, you’re looking for a complete escape into another world that is completely irrelevant to college life. 

Whatever the case may be, in the following article, we have some seriously good reads for you to check out. 

Let’s dive in!

Best Student Reads

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso 

Don’t be fooled by the title, this one’s not just for the ladies. 

Sophia is nothing short of inspirational. She will tell you straight up, when to quit and when you should push for more. She explains how to use your mistakes and learn from them to reach your full potential. 

Honestly, who hasn’t made a mistake in their life? 

We all have, and we all are a little guilty of beating ourselves up over it. She’ll show you how to keep the energy moving to reach your full potential, and thrive. 

This book is gold! 

Freedom By Jonathan Franzen 

Freedom is a story about a less than usual relationship, where the characters first met in college. 

Will they choose their friendship? Or love? How does one decide if a close friendship is worth jeopardizing for love? 

Freedom is a must-read for navigating complicated feelings. 

Image result for freedom by jonathan franzen

Into The Wild By John Krakauer 

There’s a certain perspective nature can give to a person.

Back in 1990, a college graduate, Chris McCandless, burned all of his money, stopped communicating with his peers, changed his name, and hit the western United States looking to escape from his life. 

By 1992, Chris had made it to Alaska and survived off the Alaskan forest for a little over 100 days. 

Trying to find the reasons he disappeared, journalist Jon Krakauer decided to turn Chris McCandless’ story into a book. 

In “Into the Wild,” Krakauer talks about McCandless’ family life, impressive education and his passion for the outdoors. 

This book is particularly interesting because, despite everything a person may achieve in life, one can still find themselves searching for more, or in this case, much less. 

Learn more about the life and death of Chris McCandless here: https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/how-chris-mccandless-died

Bluets By Maggie Nelson

When you’re feeling like you’ve reached the lowest of lows, check out Bluets. 

Providing inspiration and relatable quotes that truly touch on the fact that you have nowhere to go but up. 

Whatever your low is, it won’t break you. 

Bluets is an essay that will go through triumphs and tribulations with you and remind you where you are at, and what you’re here to accomplish. 

Best Student Reads

Whether you’re feeling homesick or feeling sick to your stomach from a recent break-up, read Bluets and it will forever change your perspective, maybe even your entire life for that matter. 

Sometimes you’ve got to rip the band-aid off and feel bad, to eventually get to where the good is at. Sometimes you have to just go for it. 

In the end, you’ll thank yourself for reading what Maggie Nelson has to say. 

Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body By Roxanne Gay

Let’s talk about body image issues just for a second.  

It’s so easy to feel pressured and get wrapped up into society’s idea of the standards of beauty. 

In a world that often feels like it just doesn’t accept her, Gay goes through ways of taking care of herself and her body and learning to be comfortable in her own skin, in her own lenses, and not what society wants her to be. 

There’s some serious confrontation going on in this book, but I promise, it will resonate with you, especially if you’re a younger student just trying to get through the school year. 

Today, with social media filters & airbrushed models on magazine covers, it can be so difficult not to compare yourself to others, and to actually accept and find beauty within yourself. 

If you seek out what Roxanne Gay has to say in Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, I promise you won’t regret it. 

Image result for The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao By Junot Diaz

The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao By Junot Diaz

Next on our list of the best student reads, we have a best-selling book by Junot Diaz.

We all know that we can’t erase the past. 

You know, that embarrassing moment you had at last week’s party, which you will be known as “that person” for the remainder of your post-secondary career. 

Regretting you ate an entire pizza to yourself in one sitting. 

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao walks you through his life through his college roommate’s eyes. 

He goes through Oscar’s struggles and triumphs in finding his identity despite how his past has affected him. 

This inspirational novel will have you flipping pages for days. 

The chapters are laid out with purpose and really set the tone for moving through your past, to move forward in your future. 

Catcher In The Rye By J.D. Salinger

The final book on our list of best student reads is a classic that you’ve probably heard of before: Catcher in the Rye.

I think everyone can identify with going through a phase where you’re feeling lonely and maybe even a little under-appreciated and invisible at times. 

These phases tend to happen when going through teenage years or early adulthood. 

Catcher in the Rye is known for making its readers feel heard and understood.  

Salinger has inspired so many young students around the globe with words one can not only just take in, but also relate.  

Image result for catcher in the rye

For many of us, it will take us back to our younger more troubling years and possibly help us make some sense of it, or at least, learn to laugh at ourselves while we’re there. 

Every student should read Catcher in the Rye at least once in their lifetime.  

Best Reads 2020

Whether you’re looking for some inspiration, or just need to escape from the real world for a little bit, our list of the 7 best student reads is sure to have something for everyone to love.


What books have you recently read and would recommend to your peers? What books are on your to-read list?

How To Save Money On Textbooks

Interested in learning how to save money on textbooks next semester? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Investing in yourself for post-secondary education is one of the most financially challenging things we find ourselves doing. It’s a huge leap into the unknown, with enormous expenses around every corner.  

But there’s a bright future ahead, so long as you just get through these next few years.

For many of us, the financial aspect of attending College can put quite a strain on our bank accounts, which ultimately adds to our stress level. 

How To Save Money On Textbooks

 And while some of us choose to work throughout the year, others choose to live off of financing to focus fully on the heavy workload college brings to the table. 

Whatever your case may be, the first few bills that come up at the beginning of the year can be hefty. You’ll find yourself handing your money over to tuition, rent, parking passes, and all in the span of a few days. 

That’s enough to make anyone a little uneasy.

And to make matters worse, textbooks can take up a huge portion of your school budget. 

In fact, the average college student will spend anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 just on textbooks. That’s a substantial expense, so why not try and save money there? 

Below, we go over some tips for buying your textbooks, and saving you money while you’re at it!.  

Avoid The Campus Bookstore 

I can’t stress this one enough. Avoid buying your books from the campus bookstore!

Instead, it’s much more affordable to buy your books online

assorted books on wooden table

There are so many websites that offer textbooks for a fraction of the cost compared to the bookstore. 

The convenient thing about buying your books online is that you can compare prices easily with other websites. You can watch for deals, and get email notifications on price drops. 

Every little bit helps. 

Buying your books online can save you hundreds, and often they will be delivered in just a few days. 

Search for affordable textbooks here: https://textbooknova.com/

Buy Used 

Like anything in life, not everything has to be brand new.  Plus, there are so many benefits to buying used textbooks. 

For one, you’re helping the environment with recycling someone’s old textbooks that otherwise would have ended up in the landfill. 

Second, you’re helping out another student by buying it, while at the same time, saving yourself money. 

The content of the textbook is what you need, does it really matter if some pages are bent?  

A few great websites to search for used textbooks are:

How To Save Money On Textbooks

Check Out E-books 

If you have a laptop and plan on bringing it to class with you every day, you may want to look into e-books. 

You’ll only pay a small price to download the book on your computer, and it’s there forever.  

This could very well be revolutionary in saving money on textbooks!  

That’s not to mention, you’re likely going to be finding yourself pulling late-night study sessions with friends. With e-books, you can bring your textbooks with you, without needing to lug them around in your backpack.

The convenient thing about e-books is you can never misplace them or forget them. Plus, you won’t ever find yourself rummaging through your locker trying to find the right book in between classes. 

Talk about simplifying your life in one easy step.  

All you need to do is grab your laptop and head out the door, with all of your coursework readily available. 

assorted-title of books piled in the shelves

Visit The Library 

Many of the textbooks you’ll find at the library have been donated by students who have either dropped out or graduated and no longer need them. 

Sometimes, the library will purchase various textbooks or books with similar content. So it’s always a good idea to check them out before going out and buying new books. 

Libraries loan books for free. And oftentimes, you’ll only need a particular book for one semester, and then you’ll move on to another. 

So why not borrow one off by using your good, old fashioned library card.  

Rent Your Textbooks 

There are plenty of options for renting out textbooks. 

Again, the easiest way to go about doing this is likely searching online. You may even be able to find ads posted on a bulletin board in the common area at your school.

Most colleges have a student service resource center, ran by students dedicated to helping other students. 

They should be able to point you in the right direction on who is renting out their books or where to look.   

You may even see this as a potential money-making opportunity for yourself when you’re finished with the textbooks you’ve purchased. Renting them out to future students can potentially have your textbooks paying themself off in the long run.  

How To Save Money On Textbooks

Final Tip: Always Compare Prices 

Even the biggest brands put their products and services on sale from time to time.

That’s why it’s important to always shop around and compare prices from different stores/suppliers.

This is the real key on how to save Money On Textbooks. 

Don’t just buy the first books you see!

Shop around online or ask around at school to find out any other ways you can save money on your books.

Just remember, there are plenty of ways to save yourself money throughout the years, and saving on your textbooks is one of them.

My First Love

By Austin Malberg

Editor’s Note: This article is the winning submission to the Textbook Nova 2019 Scholarship.

In the last few leisurely days of August, before the start of my first year of high school, I had a desire to pick up a new book before classes started. I decided on a book based on the outburst of reviews it had received from my peers. Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur, was the first poetry book I ever read. I finished it in under an hour and then I read it again that very same day. I fell in love with the way the words danced on the page to create melodies, seemingly crafted for my ears alone. 

I tore out page sixty-two and hung it on my wall, but not before highlighting, 

“what drives you crazy / what keeps you up at night / i tell him i write” (6-8).

I spent more time on this page than I did reading the book to its entirety. I was caught off guard because when I read those lines, I was reminded of a time when I used to feel the same. A time when my heartbeat raced when given the chance to expose myself. When my breathing quicken at the very idea of fashioning my thoughts on a page in order to make sense of them. A time when I was in love with the art of writing. 

I tried to place a finger on when the passion had evaded me, leaving agony in place of adoration. I found myself blaming the classrooms I grew up in. I remembered back to my elementary school years, when I was always proud of that fact that writing was my favorite time of the day. But as I grew, I realized they stripped me of the childish whims that used to inspire me. Where as I grew, it became less and less acceptable to speak my mind and act boldly with my words. I was taught to forget my voice and rely solely on the structure they provided. The classroom stole my passion from me, took away the first thing I loved, and I resented it for that. 

I wish my education would’ve been fueled by the fragments of knowledge I gained from the people I met and allowed me to show how perspectives I encountered had shaped me. I wish I would’ve been told to take risks and learn as I go, instead of being told what my voice should sound like. With every generic five paragraph essay I was asked to complete, I became more frustrated. However, I wrote them because it became about appeasing the teachers and being found traditionally successful. Writing what they wanted to see, in order to get a grade I was satisfied with. 

My frustration lead me to rebel outside the boundaries of typical school writing and I was amazed when the feedback came back positive. It was the first time I realized that my teachers were waiting for me to forget the rules of a five paragraph essay and give them something that shocked them. The five paragraph wouldn’t get me a bad grade, but a creative approach would get me a better one along with eagerness from my teachers for more.  After that, I noticed myself getting excited for papers that were assigned because I was always looking for the next way I was going to leave people with something unexpected. 

With the spark of my new found curiosity,  I took advantage of a creative writing workshop offered at a university and forced myself to write at a time when I was unsure if I could ever love it again. Still however, I did everything in my power to respark my passion. I channeled my grief and heartache and poured it into poetry for the first time. I showcased my interpretation of love and life in stories that I wrote throughout the stretching hours of the night. I took as many risks as possible throughout each essay, no longer letting structure hold me back. I reconstructed the foundation of what writing meant to me. 

Now, as a first year undergraduate student at Hamline University, I currently have around fourteen thousand words of poetry, along with an assortment of short stories, personal narratives, screenplays, and creative essays. I am loading my schedule full of different writing classes with the intention to get my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing. I am planning to perform at our campus’ monthly poetry slams. I own more books of poetry than what can be found stocked in bookstores. And I finally remembered why I loved it all to begin with. I have never found myself more, than in the times I’ve let my pen hit the page.

Page sixty-two, the ripped out page from Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur, now hangs pinned to my desk in Osborn Hall at Hamline. Every morning, I reglance over the page and am thankful that I came across it so many years ago. I strongly believe that if I never would have read Milk and Honey that I would not be planning to major in creative writing, and maybe wouldn’t even be attending Hamline University. Milk and Honey had the largest impact on my life by giving me back my first love, inspiring me to carry that love with me into my future aspirations. 

I won’t ever be done spilling my words on a page and seeking new experiences that let me share my voice with others. I won’t ever give up on my dream of publication. I want to travel, to let the cultures I’m immersed in bleed into me and shape new perspectives and stories into my work and to let those experiences fuel my writing. I want to be bold with my education by writing for myself, even when others tell me it’s a foolish plan to mold my education around an art. To prove to everyone that asked what my “back-up plan” is, that a “back-up plan” is not necessary for my success. To stick with my passion because my heart and soul fuel my work, to allow myself to expose myself in script. 

Study Tips For College Students

Looking for study tips to help you buckle down for an upcoming exam? Read about the best study tips to help you improve your focus and concentration while hitting the books.

Everybody always tells you how great of a decision it is to go to college. But nobody ever really talks about the grueling hours you’ll need to spend cracking down and studying. 

Especially if you’re trying to balance school with a full-time job or any type of family responsibilities, it can often feel like you’ll never find the time to be able to sit down and study. 

That’s why it’s important to make the most of your time while you’re in school. And I’m not going to sugar coat it, it’s going to take a lot of self-discipline, focus, and concentration. 

But that doesn’t mean that studying needs to be a nightmare. 

Maybe you’ve already found your own study routine, but if you’re looking for some new ways to ramp up your studies, check out the following list of easy and actionable study tips for college students. 

Unplug and Focus Your Mind – Study Tips

The very best study tip we can give you is to unplug yourself from the digital world. 

This means turning off your email notifications, logging out of social media, powering down your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and focusing your mind on hitting the books. 

If you find yourself struggling to stay away from your electronics, you might even try storing them in another room while you’re studying. Or better yet, leave them at home and take your books over to your local library or cafe to study in a nice, quiet environment. 

By removing yourself from the easy temptation to check your electronics, you’ll be able to enhance your ability to focus and work more efficiently at learning and retaining information. 

Study Tips

Find Your Auditory Space

Everybody is different, but we all have our own preferences when it comes down to an optimal environment to study in. 

For example, some students prefer to study while listening to calm, instrumental music. While others prefer to listen to loud, heavy rock and roll music to be able to focus and concentrate. It’s the same as how some people find droning news radio in the background to be perfect background noise for concentration and study, while others need complete silence in order to focus. 

By finding your perfect auditory space, you’ll be able to better avoid your environmental distractions and focus more on your studies. 

Feed Your Brain – Study Tips

Did you know that our brains are our bodies’ most energy-demanding organs? And that during a single day, the brain can use up to nearly half of the body’s total sugar energy?

According to the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute, brain function is very closely linked to the body’s glucose levels, as well as how efficiently the brain is able to process information. 

So without the right kind of sugars, your brain won’t be able to produce neurotransmitters efficiently, leading to a breakdown in communication between your neurons. In turn, this makes tasks such as focus and concentration much harder to achieve. 

Also, studies have shown that when your blood glucose levels are too low, your brain’s cognitive functioning can be significantly impaired. Just like being drunk or being over-exhausted.

With that said, another extremely important study tip is to stay nourished and properly hydrated. 

And try to avoid sugary snacks and junk foods. These unhealthy snacks do provide bursts of sugar and energy. But their effects are short-lived, and when your body crashes afterward, concentration can be next to impossible. 

Tune Into Your Circadian Rhythm.

Again, we’re all different. So it’s important to tune into your own circadian rhythm and find out when your most focused times of the day are. 

For example, you might be an early-riser who functions best first thing after their morning coffee. 

Or maybe, you’re the type of person who doesn’t feel focused until it’s dark out and everybody has gone to sleep. 

Regardless, it’s important to learn when your brain functions its best, and build your study routine around your unique energy pattern. 

This way, when you do actually sit down to hit the books, no matter what time of day it is, your mind will be at its freshest and most alert. 

Create A Study Schedule

Successful students find it extremely helpful to create a study schedule and to stick with it consistently throughout the year. 

That means creating a daily, weekly, or monthly routine that works with your home and family life. 

Just make sure to block out time for attending your classes, studying for tests and exams, writing papers, and simply reading up on any new course material. 

And don’t forget to block out a bit of time for rest and relaxation as well. You won’t be able to study effectively if your brain and body are already exhausted. 

Study Tips

Keep Your Books With You – Study Tips

Another super simple study tip is to always bring your reading materials or notebooks with you when you head out of the house. 

You never know when you might find yourself with an extra twenty or thirty minutes to kill. 

And by having your books with you, if you do find yourself needing to kill some time, you can make the most of it by whipping out your textbooks and brushing up on your studies. 

Making the most of every chance you get to study is a sure-fire way to ensure you have what it takes to succeed in your course. 

Making The Most Of Your Studies

If you find it hard to find time for your studies, you’re not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of students all across the country that find it hard to find time to sit down and hit the books. 

But that doesn’t mean that studying has to be a nightmare. 

By following these 6 awesome study tips, you’ll be able to better manage your study time and make the most of every chance you do get to hit the books. 

Budgeting Tips For Students

Looking for student budgeting tips? Then, you’ve come to the right place.

Whether you’re in college or university, it’s high time that you learn how to start budgeting your finances. 

It’s no secret that first-year students are prone overspending on books, take-out and study supplies. 

But by creating and maintaining a budget throughout the year, you’ll be much better able to manage your expenses and set yourself up for financial success in the long run. 

Budgeting Tips

Better Budgeting Tips

While you’re in school, it’s a good idea to keep a detailed logbook of your weekly or monthly expenses. Keep track of this by writing it down every time you spend any money. 

Then, you’ll be able to subtract these expenses from your income to see whether you’re spending within your means. 

Don’t be too alarmed if you come up with a negative balance. It’s important to use this information to help you review your spending and see where you can cut back on your spending.

For example, you might notice that you’re spending an awful lot of take-out food. 

Or, you might even realize that no amount of cutting back is going to help and that you need to earn more money. In that case, a part-time job might be the best solution. 

Having a part-time job can help you better afford your expenses. And part-time jobs are also much likelier to offer a flexible schedule to fit around your classes.  

Learn more budgeting tips here.

Budgeting Tips

Learn About Student Lines Of Credit

Not all credit is created the same. While it’s best to avoid paying your bills with a credit card, using a student line of credit is often a good choice for students struggling to make ends meet. 

Obtaining a student line of credit allows you to access a pre-established amount of cash every year while in school. You’ll still be required to make regular payments on the interest. But you’ll be able to wait until after you graduate to pay back the principal in full. 

And again, it’s best to avoid using credit cards at all costs. They have much higher interest rates and charge hefty cash advance fees, making it much harder to pay off your balance.   

Negotiate Better Rates

We often overlook the cost of our cable and cellphone bills when dealing with our monthly expenses. But the truth is that these services often represent a significant portion of our monthly spending. 

So with that said, it might be worth it to try and call your cable or cell service provider to see if you can negotiate better rates. If not, you might want to see about dropping a service or two to help lower your monthly bill. 

After all, do you really need that extra gig of data? 

Avoid Eating Out – Budgeting Tips

When you’re in school, especially if you’re juggling a part or full-time job at the same time, it can often feel like it’s impossible to take the time to cook a meal from scratch. 

But restaurants and take-out food are expensive, and it’s easy to spend an entire month’s grocery budget by eating out just a few times.  

So instead, try your best to do groceries and pack lunches instead of grabbing food on the go. 

It might also be a good idea to create a separate grocery budget by figuring out what foods you’ll need for the month. Then, create a list of what to buy before heading out to the store and stick to it at all costs. 

Read more student budgeting tips here: https://www.gobankingrates.com/saving-money/budgeting/budgeting-tips-college-students/

Think Before You Spend

Impulse purchases can be extremely tempting. But they’re also the purchases that we tend to regret almost as soon as we’ve made them. 

That’s why we suggest waiting at least 24 hours before making any major purchases. 

If the item is something that you truly need, you’ll stick likely still want to make the purchase after waiting a day. 

But giving yourself a day to think about the purchase will allow you to decide whether it is something you truly need, or if it’s only something that you want. 

It might be hard to deny buying yourself something new, but at the end of the month, when your spending is still within your means, you’ll thank yourself for it. 

Buy Used or Digital Textbooks

It’s no secret that textbooks are often one of a student’s biggest expenses. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to either buy used textbooks or do away with hardcopies completely and go digital. 

There are many places where students can go to look for pre-used, afforable textbooks and there is also an increasing number of schools that are offering digital copies of textbooks. 

Not only will you be saving yourself money, but you’ll also be helping to reduce your impact on the environment. 

Best Study Tips

Put Money Aside – Budgeting Tips

The next item on our list of budgeting tips is to put some money aside and save it.

You never know when you’re going to run into hard times. 

And this is exactly why we recommend trying to put aside at least 10% of your monthly income and not touch it unless absolutely necessary. 

Think about it as an emergency fund. 

So whether your car unexpectedly breaks down one day or you simply need help coming up with your share of the rent next month, you won’t have to go calling mom or dad to beg for a handout. 

Struggling With Student Debt?

If you’re struggling with debt or need budgeting advice, don’t wait to find help. 

If you’re facing any type of financial difficulties, it’s important that you speak to a school or financial counselor as soon as possible. They’ll be able to advise you on any issues you may be having and point you in the right direction to help you get back on track. 

3 Easy Ways to Save Money in College

We’re sure you’re well aware of all the buzz surrounding college tuition. With an average price tag of $20,000 for four years of school, it goes without saying that higher education is expensive. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t cut costs in some areas of school. Today, we’re going to show you a few tips on how to save money in college (wherever possible). Let’s cover three proven tips that’ll help you get your degree without spending more money than you have to. 

1. Avoid Paying Full Price for Textbooks

College students spend an average of $655 per year on textbooks, according to the National Association of College Stores. That totals to about $2,620 in 4 years. Could you think of something better to spend that money on?

I bet you can.

So what’s the alternative to buying brand new textbooks from your college’s bookstore? Here are a few solutions:

Sometimes there is no way to get around this like a physical workbook that you need to write in and turn in, or online content that is registered to your student ID.

Sometimes you just can’t get around the new edition of a textbook. Maybe there’s a physical workbook you need for assignments, or the increasing trend of online materials that come with your textbooks. No matter what you decide to do, just make sure that buying brand new textbooks is always your last resort. It could save you thousands of dollars in the long run. 

We offer one of the largest databases online for searching for textbooks and academic media at the lowest price—browse our textbook search engine at Textbook Nova.

2. Get as Much Free Money as You Can!

Start saving money early by applying for as many grants and scholarships as you can. It might seem like scholarships are only available to straight A students, but you’d be surprised to learn that are thousands of ways to qualify for rewards.

You can begin by searching for…

  • Federal grants 
  • State grants
  • Employer scholarships (this is a hidden gold mine!)
  • Volunteer grants
  • Institutional grants (churches, temples, organizations)
  • Academic scholarships 
  • Skill-based scholarships
  • Hobbies or club scholarships
  • Local awards
  • And much more…

Scholarships and grants don’t have to be paid off and can go towards your college education.  So apply for them as early as possible. And leave no stone unturned! Trust us, when it’s 10 years down the road and you’re trying to pay off your education… every dollar adds up.

Likewise, you can get help from your financial aid counselor. They’ll happily walk you through the grant application process to see what you qualify for. 

Want to avoid the hours spent on online searching? Check out The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2020. Not only will you find the details on over 1.5 million scholarships and grants—including how to apply for each one—but you’ll also discover tips on how to best search for awards, writing a remarkable application, and how to avoid scams.  

Find your copy of The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2020 here:

3. Let Your Advisor Lead the Way

It’s reported that the average graduate of a four-year college takes the equivalent of a full extra semester of classes, meaning an extra 12 to 15 credits.

In a time where the cost of college tuition is only rising, it’s crucial to make sure that you’re not wasting money (or your time) on classes that you don’t need in the long run. The sooner you graduate, the sooner you can launch your career.

And this is where your college advisor comes in.

Talk to them about creating a pathway that highlights the classes that are actually necessary for your degree. It’s common for students to get lost in a sea of information during their first two years of school. We can 100% relate. However, this lack of proper guidance can lead to making costly decisions. 

If you go straight to your advisor early on, you might be able to avoid the same mistakes. Their advice could save you hundreds or even thousands in the long run. 

It’s inevitable that your finances will take a hit from college. 

But if you take the initiative, you might find yourself in a minority of students. These students avoid spending hundreds, if not thousands, in unnecessary expenses. Do you have other tips on setting aside some extra cash during school?

4 Fictional Book Characters You’d Want to Be Best Friends With (And The Ones to Avoid)

If you could be best pals with a fictional character, who would it be?

We love exploring the world of the fiction books. And if you’re a fellow bookworm, you know what it’s like to get attached to your favorite characters.

Naturally, we’re drawn to the characters we can relate to the most. Their stories comfort us. We get a glimpse into their innermost thoughts—which is something we could only dream of in real life.

Today, we’re sharing the fictional characters you’d want to be best friends with (plus, one group of people you’d definitely want to avoid). Let’s dig in.

Circle of Friends by Maeve Blinchy

Benny Hogan from Circle of Friends is our favorite fictional bestie. Circle of Friends begins with Benny and Eve’s friendship as schoolgirls, and follows them through university.

Through new friends, first love and family tragedy, the two remain devoted to each other—cracking each other up under pressure. Honestly, certain parts of the novel are slightly dated now because it’s set in 1950’s Ireland. For example, teenage Benny is courted by her father’s sketchy, much-older apprentice. And while he’s definitely meant to be a creep in the book, a grown man planning to marry a teenage girl is gross on another level (sixty years later).

Still, lasting, supportive friendship is never dated. The movie version is a pretty pale imitation of the novel, but we’d still be friends with film Benny too.


Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman tells the story of large and small dramas in a tiny neighborhood of interlocking families and friends. There are a lot of awesome friendships in this ensemble novel, but Frances Bloom is the one we’d choose for our bestie.

Calm without ever being unsupportive, reliable, and so comfortable in herself, Frances would be a perfect friend. We would absolutely invite ourselves over for tea with Frances. (But we’d ring the bell and wait to be invited in… we learned that much from reading the book.)

The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

Author Jojo Moyes is most famous for Me Before You… but her earlier novel, The Ship of Brides is a hidden gem. At the end of World War II, Australian brides are being shipped to the UK where their new British husbands await them. Four very different girls are assigned to share a room on an aircraft carrier-turned-women-carrier, and most of the novel takes place on their
journey.

And let’s be honest, it’s not even really Maggie’s story. Her roommates Avis, Jo, and Frances have much wilder arcs and much more shocking reversals than staid Mags. An Outback girl, Maggie struggles to adjust to the separation from everything she’s known, limited quarters after open spaces, and the new constraints of her growing pregnancy.

Still, Maggie’s the one we want to befriend. With her good humor and hard work, we just know she’s going to manage post-war rationing and new British in-laws just fine.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice would definitely make an A+ pal. Jane is just too nice, right? It would be nearly impossible to be friends with someone so determined to see the good in everyone and everything.

But one thing’s for sure—sensible and snarky Lizzie would keep us entertained at boring events. Not to mention, we’re pretty sure she’d be great at deconstructing the evening in carriage home too. Lizzie doesn’t use her wit cruelly, even if she could definitely say some things about Charlotte’s choice of husband. Or Lydia’s disaster romance.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Finally, the fictional characters we’d NEVER want to be friends with: literally any of the college pals from Lucy Foley’s mystery novel The Hunting Party.

This crowd of former friends should limit their interactions to the occasional Facebook like, not pretend they’re still super-close and take trips to the deserted highlands together. Okay, fine, so this is a murder mystery… but let’s not let that one person’s murderous impulses distract from the fact that all of these “friends” are awful humans.

What do you think? Which fictional characters would you want to hang out with?

6 New Fiction Releases for Character-Driven Readers in 2019

Image of girl reading book outside: 13 New Fiction Releases for Character-Driven Readers

If you love character-driven fiction as much as we do, this is a great time for new releases! Here are some of our favorite new books in 2019.

The Swallows by Lisa Lutz

Cover of The Swallows: 6 New Fiction Releases for Character-Driven Readers

The Swallows, by Lisa Lutz, takes place at an elite academy, where in between college apps, varsity sports and SAT prep, the prep school boys keep a secret list, ranking their female classmates sexually.

The secret list and the Dulcinea Award for the girl with the best, uh, special skills, has been going on for years, but at long last, the girls begin to seek their revenge. This story of teachers, staff, and students at the prep school is raw and vicious by turns.

(Without revealing the ending, I’ll admit to gasping aloud when I discovered one of the masterminds behind the Dulcinea Award!)

 

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Abstract Cover for The Farm: 6 New Fiction Releases for Character-Driven Readers
In Joanne Ramos’ new novel, The Farm, dozens of beautiful, healthy, young women are
surrogates for women who want to be mothers. The pregnant surrogates are well-paid, provided with meals, housing, and top-class medical care, but forbidden from leaving the Golden Oaks medical retreat (known as The Farm to residents).

The surrogacy payments are life-changing for  the girls, who are willing to sign over their most basic privacy rights for them. Meanwhile, the mothers have paid top dollar for their new babies, because they’re unable or unwilling to carry their own children.

What makes this story compelling, readable fiction? The topics explored include race, class, and the meaning of motherhood, without ever losing touch with the characters or storyline.

 

Mistress of The Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

Image of Book Cover: Woman Standing in Front of the Eiffel Tower - 6 New Fiction Releases for Character-Driven Readers
Mistress of The Ritz is about sticking it to the Nazis, while wearing gorgeous clothes and drinking cocktails. Blanche Auzello, American wife of the French director of the Ritz hotel, finds herself hosting Nazi officers at the famous hotel.

While she and her husband pretend to perform the Ritz’ famous hospitality, Blanche finds that being so close to the Nazi higher-ups, with access to their conversations and knowledge of their daily habits, gives her a unique advantage for the French Resistance.

The result is a thrilling novel, full of suspense and intrigue. But be prepared for tragedy as well, because this is based on historical events.

 

American Princess by Stephanie Marie

Image of Book Cover: Car Rides off with a Scarf Trailing - 6 New Fiction Releases for Character-Driven Readers

Another recent historical novel, American Princess, tells the story of the outrageous First Daughter Alice Roosevelt. Novelist Stephanie Marie Thornton describes Alice’s adventures and romances in this page-turning novel.

Although some of Alice’s antics, like driving a car or going out unchaperoned, may seem tame now, there’s a wonderful contrast between Alice and the Washingtonian establishment around her. Readers can’t help but be drawn in by the force of her rebellious, hedonistic personality, and root for her when she’s down. (I particularly enjoyed Alice’s remarks on her dowdy do-gooder cousin Eleanor.)

 

Park Avenue Summer by Helen Gurley Brown

Image of Book Cover: Woman in New York City -6 New Fiction Releases for Character-Driven Readers

In Park Avenue Summer, Midwestern transplant Alice lands an assistant job at Cosmo, under the famous author and editor Helen Gurley Brown. Helen is trying to revamp the magazine, despite all the obstacles thrown in her path, and Alice is caught in office conflicts, between the forceful personality of her new boss and the forces that want the female editor-in-chief to fail disastrously.

Alice’s goals in photography and independence make her a compelling protagonist, even when her Midwestern naivety seems a bit much at times.

 

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

Image of Book Cover: Close of Woman Wearing Hat - 6 New Fiction Releases for Character-Driven Readers

If history is your thing, get ready for this one. A brand new story with intense and developed characters will be out next year. Karin Tanabe’s upcoming novel, A Hundred Suns, reveals secrets upon secrets among expats and citizens in French Indochina, into the 1930s.

5 Must-Read Fiction Book Series for Adults

Girl Reading Book: 5 Must-Read Fiction Series

If you’re a dedicated reader, you already know the pain of finishing a great novel.

And when you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to your favorite characters or leave your favorite world, a series might ease the pain. Want to dive deep into an epic series of novels?

Keep reading on to find out our must-read fiction book series (for adults).

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin

5 Must-Read Fiction Book Series for Adults: A Game of Thrones Set

If you haven’t read the Game of Thrones novel series, A Song of Ice and Fire, you’re missing out!

If you’re already a fan of the show, keep in mind the books have diverged from the show. (Or has the show diverged from the books?) So it’s not the same story in every way.

But the central conflict, strong characters, and shifting allegiances are still there. If you love the backstabbing and reversals of Sunday night GoT, you need to check out the novels. There are five books out now and two more in the works—although George R R Martin has pushed back the release date a few times already—but his series will keep you busy for awhile.

 

The Lady of the Rivers by Phillippa Gregory

5 Must-Read Fiction Book Series for Adults: The Lady in the River book cover

Do you enjoy geeking out on fantasy novels or historical fiction? This series is for you.

Phillippa Gregory’s historical novels about royal women begin with The Lady of the Rivers, where we meet young Jacquetta of Bedford. They live in the time of the War of the Roses.

(Fantasy fans take note: Parts of the story of the Starks and Lannisters were inspired by a historical rivalry between the Yorks and Lancasters in the War of the Rose.)

Jacquetta will eventually become the mother of Elizabeth Woodville, and the grandmother to the king of England. Gregory’s series of novels continues through Henry VIII, with novels about his wives, and finally Elizabeth I. She always focuses on women near the throne and the constant struggle for power.

This is a particularly solid series. How so? Because each one can be read as a standalone novel, but reading them in historical order adds tons of depth to the characters and shows how closely related these political rivals were.

 

One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

5 Must-Read Fiction Book Series for Adults

We’re currently two books into the Impossible Times trilogy by Mark Lawrence… and anxiously waiting for the third book to be released!

These compelling sci-fi stories focus on the friendships in a tabletop gaming party. Not only that, Laurence throws in a dash of time travel and pairs it with the realization that our small choices could affect the entire universe.

Also, there’s a teen romance that won’t make you cringe! Impossible Times is a trilogy, not a long series, so the upcoming third book should resolve everything left unfinished.

 

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman

5 Must-Read Fiction Book Series: A Lady's Guide to Etiquette book cover

Dianne Freeman’s new series, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder, blends a manners novel with a mystery.

Frances, the recently widowed Countess of Harleigh, is one of the dollar princesses. She’s an American heiress married to an impoverished British title—a bit like Lady Jennie Jerome Churchill, or Lady Cora on Downton Abbey.

Frances’ first mystery to solve is getting her own resources back from greedy in-laws, but that soon gives way to a more dramatic mystery. The blend of formalized manners and dangerous investigation makes a great series.

The second one, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, develops the secondary characters, and sets up a strong possibility of recurring mysteries for Frances and her friends to solve.

 

Ovid (Marcus Corvinus Book 1) by David Wishart

5 Must-Read Fiction Book Series for Adults: Ovid Novel Cover

David Wishart’s Marcus Corvinus series of Roman historical mysteries leads us through some of the dramatic historical events of the early Empire. Beginning with Ovid, accidental detective Marcus Corvinus finds himself doing a small favor that turns into a huge investigation.

You’ll notice this pattern repeats in the following novels, until Marcus gives up and just accepts that he’s a criminal investigator now. The Julio-Claudians and other historical figures appear as minor characters, but it’s the slacker/detective Marcus Corvinus himself who really pulls you in.

The author shows Roman social classes by having the Roman patricians speak like they attended Eton, while the plebs all sound like they’re from council flats in the East End. The author has also written another novel set in ancient Rome, called I,Virgil.

This isn’t a mystery and doesn’t star Marcus Corvinus, but offers the same well-researched historical setting as the mystery series.

Now it’s your turn. What series are you reading? What books are you anxiously awaiting?