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.

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 http://amazon.com/ and http://halfpricebooks.com/ 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.