Roommate Diplomacy Care Package

Want your student to start off on the right foot with their roommate? A Roommate Diplomacy Care Package can make everyone’s life easier. Include items like the following:

Roommate Diplomacy care package

Roommate Diplomacy care package

• Chess, checkers, jumbling tower, deck of cards
• Dry-erase board (for writing up chores and duties)
• Sleep mask & nose strips
• Air freshener
• Flashlight
• “Do Not Disturb” door hanger
• Snacks (cheese puffs, pretzels & popcorn)
• Books
• Personal fan

Nip your student’s dorm drama in the bud. Check out this article on how they can avoid roommate issues by splitting it down the middle.

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Moving In Care Package

Moving in to a new dorm room and making it “yours” is important for the new college student, and there’s no way they’re going to remember everything. Help them transform their space into something they can truly call theirs with a Moving In Care Package. Try including items like the following:

Moving In care package

Moving In care package

• Yoga DVD
• Novelty lamp
• Mug
• Fun desk toys
• Organization store gift card
• “Dorm Room Feng Shui” book
• Snacks (apples, cheese puffs, gumballs, gummy bears, mints)

Now that your student has moved in to college, don’t let them just camp out in their room! Share these ideas for how they can get involved on campus.

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What College Costs and What You’ll Earn

With the fall semester fast approaching, college students are working, saving money, and buying the supplies and furnishings they’ll need to live and study on campus. And though every college track is different, every student has one thing at the top of their mind: what college will cost, and what they can expect when they graduate.

Check out the infographic we’ve made below to find out what different degrees cost on average, what you can expect to earn as your starting salary by major, and more.

What College Costs

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Get financially fit for freshman year

Establish a budget

A well planned budget is like a good workout plan: it maximizes your resources and minimizes the impact of life’s potential surprises. That’s why establishing one and sticking to it can be a great way to get financially fit for your freshman year. Follow these tips, and you’ll hit the ground running when you get to college:

  1. Track your spending. Keep an honest account of what you’re spending money on for a couple of months before you make your budget. This will help you identify your priorities and any areas where you might need to plan a little bit more.
  2. Make a list of your income and expenses. Use Wells Fargo’s Cash Flow Worksheet or My Money Map to help document where your money is coming from – your job or federal work-study, for example – and what expenses you might have, housing, gas, food, study materials, etc.
  3. See what’s left. After totaling your income and expenses, see how much you have left over. This money can be put into savings, set aside for trips home, or used for entertainment and other outings.
  4. Set clear goals. Do you want to build your savings account? Take a fun trip over spring break? While you’re looking at what money is available and where it is going, you can set clear financial goals for yourself and know exactly how much you need to set aside each week or month.
  5. Stick to it. A budget can be a tremendous asset but only if you stick to it. You might need to adjust it over the next few months as you become more familiar with your spending habits. If you’re still finding it difficult to follow, sit down and take another look at it. Remember, your hard work will pay off in the end – and can help make your financial goals a reality.

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The All-Nighter Care Package

Whether cramming for mid-terms or putting the polish on that big paper, all-nighters are a rite of passage for most college students. Give your student that little extra perk they need to make it through the night with the help of an All-Nighter Care Package, and consider including:

All-Nighter care package

All-Nighter care package

• Mints & gum
• Boombox
• Music gift card
• Book light
• Notebooks
• Snacks (mini donuts, gummy bears)
• Calculators, pens, pencils, notebooks

Don’t pull an all-nighter figuring out how to pay for your student’s college education. Check out this article and get a good night’s sleep.

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Packing for freshman year

9 things you may not need your first month at college

Packing for college can be challenging, especially when you’re not sure what to expect your freshman year. Although you may be tempted to fill your car with as much as possible to cover all your bases, it’s helpful to know what you may not need during your first few weeks at college.

  1. Binders and notebooks. A few classes may still require a three-ring binder, but for the most part, you’ll be using a laptop or tablet to type up your notes. And remember, you can always purchase any school supplies you may still need when you get there. If you do end up taking digital notes, don’t forget to back up your information periodically so that you don’t lose anything you’ll need for the big test.
  2. Quarters. Nowadays, many college campuses employ a card system for laundry. Make sure to give the housing office a call before you change those twenties.
  3. Kitchen utensils. Verify that your dorm has an available kitchen before loading up pots and pans. Check if toasters, electric kettles, or hot plates are allowed before bringing them with you.
  4. Your entire wardrobe. Dorm closets tend to be tiny. Prioritize basics and take into consideration any seasonal differences.
  5. Brand-new textbooks. According to the National Association of College Stores, full-time students spent an average of $655 on required course materials during the 2010-2011 school year. Cut costs by buying used books at your campus bookstore or on the Internet. You can also consider renting the required textbooks. Remember that you may be able to sell your used books online or to a classmate after the semester is over.
  6. A printer. On many campuses, printing is available for free or for a very reduced rate. They’re often located in convenient places like the library or in dorm lounge areas so that you can grab your paper before your morning class. Leaving your printer behind can help you save space in your room, and money on ink and paper.
  7. Valuables and knickknacks. Not only will any extra space be precious, but you’ll also be glad not to have to worry about losing or damaging any of your family heirlooms, expensive jewelry, or other valued items.
  8. Your pet. You’re about to get very busy, and it is likely you won’t have much time to care for Sparky. Plus, many college campuses don’t allow pets in dorm rooms or lecture halls.
  9. Cable TV. The idea of cable TV may be enticing, but keep in mind that  you may not have much room in the dorm. Plus, most campuses have televisions in common areas for when you need a Parks and Recreation fix.

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Prepare for the big move

Chances are you’ve been both excited and anxious for the start of freshman year. The transition and move can be difficult for both parents and students, so we’ve come up with a few ways you can help make it go as smoothly as possible:

  • Plan a special summer. Arrange for your student to take a camping or road trip with the friends he or she may not see until the holidays. If you can, sneak in a family vacation too.
  • Tie up any loose ends. Does your son or daughter know how to balance a checkbook? Make a budget? Pay bills? Do laundry? Now’s the time to make sure they have all the practical skills they’ll need for life on campus.
  • Consult a checklist. Make a list or use one provided by your student’s college to keep track of the items you have and what you still need. Start with the basics by packing necessities and let your student reevaluate once a couple of weeks have passed.
  • Include a care package. You can include special items that your student might not get for a while: favorite snacks and treats, gift cards to local grocery stores and other favorite shops, or quarters for laundry.
  • Settle those nerves. Your student is probably feeling a strange mixture of fear and excitement as they prepare to leave home. You can make this big change less stressful by sharing your own experience and by letting them know how proud you are. Remind them that, no matter what, you’re just a phone call away.
  • Don’t linger. Schools often plan a whirlwind week of orientation for new students to take their mind off potential homesickness and to get them excited about college life. Try to make a quick exit after you’ve helped them get off to a good start. It’s time for the next chapter to begin!

How are you preparing for the big move?

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Back in the classroom

The differences between high school and college classes

We all know going off to college means more freedom and choice outside of the classroom, but we don’t always know — or think about — how different things are inside the classroom. And since the classroom is such a big part of college, we put together a few things you may want to know when thinking about fall semester.

  • Schedule. High school ran like clockwork. For many students, it started every day at 8 and ended at 3. All that may change significantly when you get to college. You pick your classes and create your own schedule. Just remember, your next class might not be right down the hall.
  • Attendance. In high school, attendance was mandatory, and you needed a note if you missed a day. In college, attendance is your responsibility, and you may find it just as necessary as in high-school.
  • Homework. Gone are the days of daily assignments and endless graded papers. In college, it’s possible for classes to have only two grades, a midterm and final, and for there to be no daily assignments other than reading.
  • Courses. Early in your education, your courses were set for you and were very general. As you moved through your education, they got more specific. In college, you can study just about anything in as much detail as you want; it just depends on your college’s offering and your major.
  • Class size. The average class in high school has 20 to 30 students. In college, your classes could have more than 100 people in them. This can be a little intimidating at first, but as your courses become more specialized, your class size will likely go down.

Many students find their college classes exciting and challenging, and take away knowledge and skills that serve them for the rest of their lives. Choose your classes wisely and enjoy.

What do you think will be the biggest difference between college and high school?

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Home away from home

Planning student housing

Leaving home for college is a big step, especially if you’re not exactly sure what to expect when you get on campus. Student housing comes in many different shapes and sizes, and even if you plan to live off campus, it’s important to prepare for life with new roommates and responsibilities. Here are a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Respect deadlines. Make sure to get your application for student housing to your college on time. If you miss the deadline, your options could be extremely limited.
  • Be honest. Many colleges pair roommates based on housing questionnaires, so you may not have much say your first year. But be honest about what you’re looking for, and chances are you’ll end up with someone who’s compatible. You can also use resources like Places for Students or Roomster to find other students in the area who might be looking for roommates.
  • Research your options. As a freshman, you may be required to live on campus in a residence hall. But take a look at other opportunities, especially for the next three years. Are you interested in joining a fraternity or sorority? Do you want to rent an apartment with some of your friends? Look into whatever you think might make the next few years memorable and comfortable.
  • Prepare for the situation. Is there a communal kitchen down the hall? Will you be sharing a bathroom with a lot of people? The more you know about your housing situation, the easier it will be for you to plan what you need, such as flip-flops for the shower or a case of Ramen noodles for those late-night study sessions.
  • Touch base with your roommate. If you can, have a conversation over the phone or by email with your future roommate or roommates. Now is a great time to decide who should bring a television or to let them know that you’ve got the mini fridge covered. Take the time to share your expectations about the coming year and to hear theirs.
  • Stay organized. No matter what your living situation is, you’ll be responsible for your space. Plan to stay on top of bill payments, any chores, and communicating with your roommate. Keeping your living environment as stress free as possible will contribute to a better experience at college.

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Options for filling in the financial gap

Planning how you are going to pay for college can be stressful, especially when your financial aid package doesn’t cover all your education costs, leaving a financial gap. This gap occurs when your college’s total Cost of Attendance exceeds the amount of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and financial aid. Here are a few options that may help bridge the gap:

  • Meet with the financial aid office. You can set up a meeting with the college’s financial aid office to explore more available options, especially if your family’s financial circumstances have changed or if there was an error in the information you submitted.
  • Look for scholarships. Use an online scholarship database like Tuition Funding Sources (TFS) to search for available local and national scholarships. You can also check around the community or with your employer and your parents’ employers for more scholarship opportunities.
  • Get a part-time job. Check if work-study is available, even if it wasn’t listed in your financial aid package. On- or off-campus employment opportunities can help pay for tuition and give you valuable professional experience.
  • Apply for additional funding. If grants, scholarships, and low-cost federal loan options don’t cover your college expenses, see if other government financing options or private student loans may help. See page 10 of the Financial Aid Journey Guide for more details.
  • Reduce your costs. Brainstorm ways you could save money. Is living at home or with relatives a possibility? Can you complete your degree in less time? What about beginning at a community college and transferring to your dream school later on?

How are you going to fill the financial gap?

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