Apartments vs Dorms

Posted September 21st, 2011 by missrunningstart and filed in Reducing Expenses, Student to Student
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Student on CampusComing into a new school-year, you feel a little bit older, a little bit wiser and maybe you want to make a change from the dorm lifestyle. If you have the option to move into an off campus apartment you may want to weigh a few things before making a decision.

One thing to consider when choosing between apartment living and dorm is the need for privacy. For those who study best in private and don’t want the distraction of noisy student roommates or neighbors, an apartment is a better choice. For those who tend to feel lonely or isolated, dorm living may be the better option. In the dorms other people are always around in the dorm to hang out, or study. One way to separate who should be in the apartments and who should be in the dorms is by social needs. The dorms are fitted for students who want a more social experience. For these students the dorms are the place where everything happens on campus. Alternatively, apartments are well suited for students who are nearing the end of their college careers and want more control over their study environment. They want fewer interruptions and more freedom regarding where and when they study. Married couples are also likely to choose apartment living for the privacy.

Consider cost too. The cost of apartment living is typically more expensive than dorm living as it includes monthly rent and utilities. Since it is likely that a main reason a student wants an apartment is to have more privacy, the costs of having an apartment may require the student to get a few roommates to share the cost. It is important to consider if the goal may be defeated by the need to have roommates.

Another consideration is where and when to eat. One of the biggest advantages of dorm life is a choice of meal plans provided by an on campus dining facility. However, if the dining hall is near the dorm, then the time spent getting food may be a point in favor of apartment living. This is especially true if the dorm does not have a kitchen or allow in room refrigerators or microwaves. An apartment will normally come equipped with a kitchen with full size appliances. A student can jump out of bed and walk to the kitchen in pajamas and slippers whenever desired. A student that is not on a meal plan has a wider choice of foods because they choose their own meals. However, the student will need to factor in the time to go shopping and a budget for groceries. In addition, the student will need to make sure that she can trust her roommates not to raid her food supplies or she may end up eating out often.

Another factor to consider is proximity to class locations and events on campus. Students who live in the dorms usually are closer to class and the events that happen on campus. Plus, the bonding that occurs in a dorm is something to be cherished. This is where new lifelong friendships can unexpectedly be formed. Also, cheap entertainment happens almost daily on college campuses. Living in a dorm can mean a student has daily opportunities to do something fun and meet new people. Students living in the apartments might have to commute to campus when events happen. Commuting takes time, plus it can take a toll on the gas budget.

If a student wants to access entertainment off campus, then being in an apartment might be the way to go because those living in apartments are not bound by campus curfews.

Ultimately it’s the student’s choice as to where to live and up to them to weigh the pros and cons. It is important to choose the option that best helps the student succeed socially and academically so she will thrive through her college experience.

Signs of Distress

Posted December 22nd, 2009 by collegemomindebt and filed in Depression, Parent to Parent, Student to Student

The story below is based on a true story but the names have been changed for confidentiality.

When Tawnya’s grandmother passed away after a long and painful illness it sent the whole family into a tailspin. Grandma had been the spiritual head of the family. She was the one that family members went to when they wanted advice or comfort. With Grandma gone the family stopped attending faith based meetings and stopped celebrating spiritual holidays. Family traditions were dropped. Tawnya’s mother became somewhat bitter. Her father became mildly depressed. And her sisters became somewhat withdrawn. But Tawnya was impacted most of all.

Unfocused student18 months after Grandma had passed away, Tawnya was in college and hours from home. Then Tawnya began to eat less. She found it hard to get out of bed in the morning. She lost her motivation for school. She took less care of her attire and grooming.

Amy was Tawnya’s friend. Amy listened to Tawnya day after day as she became more sad, more irritable and more unfocused in her school work and even in her conversations. Amy was interested in the medical field and so watched many documentaries and television dramas about medical topics. One day she watched a drama about a teen who was suffering from clinical depression. This prompted her to go online to look up “signs of depression”. She found a list like the one at and realized that Tawnya was exhibiting nearly every sign of depression. She talked with Tawnya about this and asked Tawnya to tell her parents and to ask for help, but Tawnya did not act on what Amy told her. The next week Tawnya began to talk about wanting to be dead and having specific ideas about how she might take her life. This prompted Amy to call Amy’s mom.

Amy’s mom had worked in the medical field for years and quickly said, “Amy this is too big an issue for you to try to solve on your own. You need to involve a responsible adult from the college that Tawnya trusts.”
Amy contacted a favorite professor that both Tawnya and Amy liked and trusted. The professor agreed that it sounded like Tawnya was in trouble and committed to call Tawnya into her office to talk with her immediately.

When Tawnya got the call, Amy was in the room. Tawnya’s first response was anger. She asked Amy, “How dare you share my personal problems with someone else. I told you those things in confidence.”
However, Tawnya went that day to meet with the professor. The professor heard Tawnya out and then, while Tawnya was there, she phoned Tawnya’s parents.

Within that week Tawnya was seen by a mental health professional, diagnosed with clinical depression and started on anti-depressants. She told Amy that she was sorry she acted mad and that she was actually glad that Amy had cared enough to involve someone who could help her get better. Within two weeks, Tawnya was feeling better and showing more interest in eating, getting proper rest and doing well in school. Tawnya and Amy retained their friendship and Tawnya got involved in the crisis help line at school. When she tells her story, she talks about how important it is to get professional help for a friend who is suffering from depression even if it could mean the loss of a friend. Confidentiality and friendship are less important than saving someone’s life.

The Adventure of Teamwork

Posted July 29th, 2009 by missrunningstart and filed in Relationships, Student to Student
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Teamwork: Working with others to accomplish a task

Working as a team can help make a big project easier to complete, but it can also make the project more complicated.

Last spring quarter, in Sociology 110, I worked with close friends on a project that lasted all quarter. The only problem was that the group was too large (7 people). This meant that some people initially were given no meaningful work to do while others felt they were carrying the burden of the work.

Working as a team (even when you get to choose the team members) can be very difficult. Sometimes there are disagreements regarding who should lead the team. At other times there are miscommunications regarding how the work should be accomplished. And sometimes there is a team member who acts as though she/he doesn’t need to do any work, but can simply ride on the work of others.

Working with close friends can generate even more tension and unnecessary drama because social issues other than the project at hand can distract the group. Because of this, it can be better to choose acquaintances rather than close friends when assembling a team. Acquaintances are less likely to bring in superfluous issues to the team process.

Although working as a team can be very frustrating, it can also produce results that would never have been accomplished by one person. Greater variety of perspective and work approaches can produce a more creative result. Team members with special expertise such as graphic design, video production, songwriting, choreography, spreadsheet design, software development, object lesson and speech skills can add creative elements that would not be present without their involvement.

However, even when the result is not a better one, the process has merit as a learning experience because it simulates the teamwork that may be needed or expected by a future employer.

Personally, I have had very mixed experiences with teamwork. At times I’ve had to stand by in a presentation while some individuals took credit for work they didn’t do and at other times as with the sociology project, each member of the team was commended by faculty for work well done. So today, while I prefer to work solo, I can speak to how the team process has helped me grow as a student and individual

How to Buy College Books for Less and Sell for More

Posted June 25th, 2009 by missrunningstart and filed in Reducing Expenses, Student to Student

Stack of BooksOne of the first things I had to figure out as a beginning freshman was how to save money on buying college textbooks.

The first step is to get the booklist for each class. Sometimes the booklists can be obtained from a campus advisor or online when you search by course description or ID number. Other times it is distributed the first day of class. Make sure you note which edition you need for each book because there maybe small changes between editions or major rewrites. If you have questions about editions, I recommend you ask your professor if an older edition would suffice.

Once you have the booklists for your classes, go to the college bookstore and note the price for each of your required books. Typically, prices of books in the school’s bookstore are more expensive than other options. Often in the bookstore you will find new and used prices. It is good to note both prices for each book.

Other options for buying books are:

  • A student who has previously taken the course(s)
  • A student operated book exchange/bookstore; this could be a physical room or a website
  • Online websites; personally I recommend and but remember to include shipping and handling costs when you are comparing prices

Older books like classic novels tend to be cheaper online than at the school’s bookstore. If a professor asks you to purchase a book that is out of print, meaning no longer being published, the book can most likely be found on some online bookstore or through a previous student. If you can find a student who is one or two years ahead of you in your major, you may be able to buy most of your books from that one student. In some cases, students are generous and will give you the books you need for free.

If you have the chance, buy your books as soon as possible. Math and science books may be more limited online and the sooner you buy them the less stress you will have in finding them later.

If you find that the only way to secure a particular book is through the bookstore, consider buying one in the best condition possible and then use it gently so that you can sell it for at least half its original cost.

When you go to sell your previous years books, try selling them directly to students because this could get you more money than selling the through the bookstore at school or online.

Don’t let buying books stress you out. Just make sure you are getting what you are paying for.

Miss RunningStart Profile

Posted June 23rd, 2009 by missrunningstart and filed in About Us, Student to Student
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Miss RunningStartHello, I am Miss RunningStart. I am a senior in high school. I am registered at a small public high school focused on math and science in the Seattle area. Athough I am a high schooler, I have been taking fulltime college courses as a Running Start student at a local community college for a year.

Running Start allows high school students to not only graduate with their high school diploma but also an AA/AS/AB. Washington State pays for up to 18 credits a quarter for junior and senior high school students enrolled in the Running Start Program.  Washington State has offered the program since 1990. It is well accepted at most private and public universities in the United States. In fact my older sister wishes she had done it because the private college she attended in the midwest accepts running start credits.

I am planning on applying to Whitworth University, a small private college in Spokane, WA, for my junior and senior years to get a BA in early childhood education.

I am a member of AffinityCare Student Assistance Program and am happy to share some of my experiences in this Student to Student blog.

I welcome comments and feedback.