Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff’ Category

How Swayed Should You Be By Amenities at a Given College or University?

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Many factors go into selecting a college or university, and the process can be very confusing as a result.  It is no wonder that many students are left wanting to know how to survive college.  Most savvy students invest a good amount of time into researching important topics such as financial aid for college tuition and private loans for college, but there are, of course, other factors to consider.  You need to keep in mind that like no other time before colleges and universities are businesses, and that is exactly how many institutions see themselves.  They want your money and they want as many people as possible to be dying to go to their respective institutions.  Your job is to decide what is important to you.

The purpose of attending a college or university is to receive a great education that will teach you more than a skill. but will also teach you how to think in a critical and logical fashion.  That should be the number one goal of any educational institution.  However, increasingly many universities and colleges are becoming obsessed with what “perks” they can offer to entice a student to sign up and attend their university.

What you should be looking for out of a university or college isn’t who has the best waterslide or rock climbing wall, but who has the best reputation, who puts the most focus on education and who has the best job support and other services for its students.  Other considerations such as a “world class gym” or other such amenities should not be high on your list.  If they are, you might be attending college for the wrong reasons.

This does not mean that you shouldn’t be concerned about what a given university or college offers you in other regards.  The quality of your life while attending a university or college is, of course, important.  The purpose of this article is to simply highlight the fact that you shouldn’t be swayed by amenities that you don’t need or would not use.  Further, every dollar that is spent on amenities could have potentially been applied toward providing better education for students and programs for assisting graduates.  You and your parents should take these factors into consideration and you will likely make a better choice in the end.

When you are visiting different colleges if all the tour guides want to talk about is amenities, you should strongly consider other colleges or universities.  A college or university should be obsessed with proving to you that they will provide you with a great education and future opportunities, not non-stop, fun, fun, fun!  If all you hear is how much fun a university is to attend, that is a big red flag.

What the Experts Have to Tell You About Selecting a College

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Selecting the perfect college can be complicated.  The sooner you begin researching and thinking about you college decision, the better off you will likely be.  You may have read books on everything from financial aid for college tuition and private loans for college to test prep tutoring and college dorm life, but at the top of your college reading materials should be the guides that give you a better idea about what college is right for you.  Remember, however, that your time is limited, and that means finding the best books are key.  Let’s take a look at couple of available options and see how they stack up!

Students’ Guide to College: The Definitive Guide to America’s Top 100 Schools Written by the Real Experts, the Students Who Attended Them by Jordan Goldman and Colleen Buyers

Isn’t a book like this one outdated almost as soon as it is published?  Secondly, it is also important to note that these rankings are very arbitrary and a bit more ridiculous than it might seem at first glance.  After all, who are the people that really make the decision as to what are the “top schools” or the “top” anything.  You can see the problem.

Another issue with Students’ Guide to College: The Definitive Guide to America’s Top 100 Schools Written by the Real Experts, the Students Who Attended Them is that it by its very nature, it ignores career paths.  A given school may not be ranked in the top 100 per se, but it may have a great department that is ranked near the top and is respected in its field.  This does matter, especially if you are a student or the parent of a student that isn’t likely to get into a top school.  Or perhaps you just can’t afford to pay the ridiculous prices that many top schools are now requesting.

It would be easy to dismiss this book outright, but that would be a mistake.  Despite its flaws, it does have something to offer prospective college students.  There are lots of college guides on the market, and while this doesn’t go straight to the top of the list it is, nonetheless, a worthy entry, especially for those who dream of attending a top-ranked school.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to College Survival by Laurie Rozakis

Try and ignore the fact that a “complete idiot” should probably not bother with college and just go along with the Complete Idiot’s Guide on this one.  This isn’t a bad book; however, it lacks the punch and weight of many other college guidebooks.  The competition in this area is just too intense for this book to come out on top.  When contrasted against its competitors, it seems pretty average and perfunctory at best.  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to College Survival by Laurie Rozakis does cover some territory that other books might ignore, but it’s just not enough.  Further, many readers will likely feel as though the book is just a bit to fluffy to be highly effective.

Ultimately, there are many “guidebooks” on this topic, and one has to be careful as to how much weight to put into any of them.  The real point of this article isn’t that one guidebook is better than another, but that you shouldn’t treat any of these kind of books as a de facto bible designed to tell you which college or university that you should select.

Finding the right college or university for you is based on a variety of factors and you as a person.  In the end, you might have to use guidebooks like the two we examined here just to cover the basics, as your personal situation will obviously be more complex than what can be put in a guidebook.  Remembering this factor will increase the chances of getting into a college or university where you will be happy and this will, in turn, increase your chances of success.

You Can Find a Great College Roommate!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Much goes into having a great college experience.  Getting stuck with a bad college roommate is something that you want to avoid.  College dorm life can, of course, be tricky, and you might not have too much say over what kind of roommate that you might have.  However, if you are living off campus, then you may need to find a college roommate.  There is another question you need to ask first and that is, “Do I definitely need a roommate or even want a roommate?”  Whether or not you have a roommate during college is largely a matter of finances for most people.  Of course, if you are a freshmen living in the dorms, most schools will automatically assign a roommate to you.  In this case, you will most likely be living with someone you have never met before.

However, if you decide to live off-campus, you will be able to select who you live with.  If you are willing to travel more miles or more minutes to attend your college, you will be able to find cheaper rent in many locations.  This could translate into not having to have a college roommate.  Secondly, if you are willing to have a much smaller apartment, you may once again be able to avoid having a college roommate.  Thus keep in mind that you might have options where a college roommate is concerned.  So think over those options instead of just assuming that there is only one path.

Don’t Forget You Could Spend a Great Deal of Time with Your Roommate

If you do decide that you want a roommate or must have a roommate due to financial reasons, choose wisely and carefully if possible.  After all, you are getting stuck with the person (or people) you pick, potentially in close quarters and under a potentially stressful situation for weeks on end.  Having a stressful day only to know that you must go home and face a roommate that you hate is very unpleasant.

Keeping all of this in mind, don’t jump at the first person that responds to your ad for a roommate or jump at the first apartment or room that you see.  Like with most things, it will likely pay to shop around.

Also don’t be afraid to trust your gut instincts.  If you feel as though a situation is bad news, then go with that gut feeling.  If for no other reason imagine how horrible you will feel constantly telling yourself, “I knew better,” or “I had a bad feeling, why didn’t I listen to it?”

A great apartment or house can derail your judgment, and you need to be on guard against this happening to you.  Simply stated, a great space can make you overlook important other factors.

On one hand, you don’t want to behave as though your life depends on selecting your college roommate.  But on the other hand, you don’t want to get stuck with someone that is going to drive you crazy either.  Knowing your own limits, what you like and don’t like, and what you can tolerate are all essential pieces of information that will serve you well.  Listen to your gut, use your commonsense and, if necessary, get advice from other people as well.

Can You Avoid the Freshman Fifteen?

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Gaining weight during your freshman year is simply unavoidable, right?  The answer is of course not.  Don’t believe people that tell you that you will gain fifteen pounds or more no matter what you do.  The truth is that there are steps that you can take to keep from gaining all that weight, and these steps might be easier than you think.  The first step, however, is to simply not listen to people who are treating your weight gain as a foregone conclusion.  Remember whether or not you gain weight is up to you!  Now, let’s look at a few of the ways that you can keep that dreaded “Freshman Fifteen” off your back.

Don’t Adopt Bad Health Habits

Just because you are in college doesn’t mean that you have to give up on working out and eating healthy meals.  If you were doing this before you went to college, then keep it up.  If you weren’t eating healthy food and getting at least a little exercise, then now is the time to start.

Don’t Trust Your College Cafeteria!

Here is a big point that you must treat seriously; don’t trust you college or university’s cafeteria.  They may be offering up low calorie meals that are low in trans fat, sodium, chemicals and preservatives, but you certainly can’t count on it.  Your on campus eating options might be your biggest obstacle in avoiding the Freshman Fifteen.  This means that you will have to be proactive about your food choices and seek out those choices that you know are good for you.

Always Have Your Own Snacks, No Exceptions

One of the easiest ways to gain a great deal of weight in college is to fall victim to the snack machines.  Snack machines rarely have healthy foods in them, and you should simply avoid them as much as possible.  Carrying your own healthy snacks isn’t just better for you, but it is also far cheaper as well.

Find Simple and Clever Ways to Get More Exercise

If you find that you just don’t have the time to exercise as much as you would like, there are so simple ways.  One way is to walk more and to walk at a brisker pace.  Another way is to carry an extra book or two in your backpack or other bag in order to burn off some extra calories.  This is a great trick, as no one will even realize that you are exercising!

Consider Giving Yourself a Reward-You Deserve It!

You know what you want!  Well, consider giving yourself a reward at the end of your freshman year when you manage to keep the Freshman Fifteen off your back.  Having a goal that you are working towards can make all the difference in the world.

Don’t assume that you will gain weight.  With some planning, effort and confidence, you can walk away from your freshman year without any extra weight.  In fact, you might even be able to lose a few pounds.

How to Prepare for Your First College Football Game

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Going to a college football game is just one of the many experiences associated with going to college. If your only football experience is the typical high school football match-ups, you should realize that the college football experience isn’t exactly the same. Sure, the basic concept of supporting your home team doesn’t change, but there is more to a college football game than cheering after every touchdown, pass or interception. Bring your enthusiasm and college team gear and get ready for a day of fun and team spirit.


The biggest difference between a high school football game and a college football game is the pre-game activities in the parking lot. Most high schools do not have organized tailgating activities. On the other hand, most college games unofficially start hours before kickoff with well-organized parking lot activities.

The most cherished of these activities is the vast amounts of food being prepared as the players go over the playbook one last time. The exact type of food varies by college and region of the country, but generally you will find burgers, hot dogs, chicken, wings, corn on the cob and a variety of local favorites among the culinary delights ready for consumption.

Some colleges have a long history of tailgating parties starting early game day morning and continuing right through the actual game. Tailgating at a college game always draws a crowd. Some of these crowds range in the thousands, especially on game day. At Penn State, the population of the State College, Pennsylvania more than doubles on most game days just from the sheer volume of fans.


The biggest tradition for most college games is wearing team colors. This may have been a part of high school games, but if you go to a college game it is almost a requirement to wear some form of the team colors. Another common college football tradition involves the mascot. This is usually not just somebody in a mascot costume. Sometimes it is an actual animal.

Sometimes, traditions involve the cheerleaders saying a certain cheer or even the band performing in a certain way. When Ohio State’s marching band takes the field to spell out “Ohio,” in cursive no less, it is considered an honor to be the dot on the “I” after the word is spelled out. Before each Colorado University home game, it is a tradition for select students to run Ralphie the buffalo (some guy in a buffalo costume) around the field.

At Clemson University in South Carolina, students rub Howard’s Rock, named for a former coach, for good luck before the start of each home game. The bigger the school, the more elaborate the traditions tend to be, from the marching in formation before the Army-Navy game to the elite Irish color guard in authentic Scottish kilts before Notre Dame’s games.


Instead of cheering for individual players, the focus among the crowd at a college game is the team as a whole. The one exception to this rule is the quarterback. Just like in high school, the QB gets plenty of love from the home team fans. However, the general atmosphere is more team-centered than high school games. Most fans at a high school game tend to be family members of the team players.

At a college game, the mix of the crowd is different. The crowd is mostly made up of students, with faculty and alumni members sprinkled here and there throughout the masses. Some schools have specific cheering traditions, with others just doing some variation of the wave. You will likely see a team mascot encouraging the crowd for the duration of the game.

Be prepared to leave the game with a sore throat from the struggle to be heard among a crowd of thousands. In high school, game day is a regular weekly gathering of the faithful. In college, it is an event.

Author Bio:
Nancy Zimmer writes for, a website dedicated to helping event-goers find the best college football games.

5 Ways to Go Green When Packing for College

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Getting ready to go off to college is one of the most exciting rites of passage in a young person’s life. College is the beginning of your independence, when choices and actions become sole responsibility of you. To start off your college career and life of independence on a green note, consider these tips for going green when packing for college.

Chemical-Free Cleaning Supplies
Of course you will want to keep your dorm room or apartment clean. Cleaning supplies can be very expensive, and they contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and harmful to your health. Allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions can be made worse by the chemicals in cleaning solutions. To avoid polluting water sources and keep your surroundings sparkling clean at the same time, consider homemade cleaning supplies, which are much cheaper than and just as effective as the expensive, ready-made kind. Instead of a variety of cleaning supplies, pack a gallon of vinegar and a box of baking soda and a couple of empty spray bottles and use these recipes for making your own cleaning solutions.

All-Purpose Cleaner
Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda with 1/2 gallon of water in a spray bottle and store. Don’t worry that the vinegar will make your dwelling smell: once it dries, it’s odor-free. This cleaner is perfect for bathroom and kitchen fixtures, countertops, dining tables and virtually any other surface on which you would use a pre-made chemical cleanser.

Carpet Stain Remover
Mix equal parts vinegar and water and spray it on the spot. Allow it to sit for 5 or 10 minutes, and then scrub with a sponge or brush using warm, soapy water.

Wall Cleaner
Apply baking soda straight to a mark on the wall using a sponge. Scrub and rinse.

To keep the air in your room smelling fresh and clean, mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 4 tablespoons of baking soda and place in a small decorative dish on a table to absorb odors.

Dishwasher Soap
Dishwasher soaps contain phosphates, which encourage algae growth in fresh water sources and choke out the wildlife. An effective replacement for dishwasher powder is to mix equal parts of borax and baking soda. Use it as you would use any commercial product.

Warm Bedding & Clothes
To keep your heating bill in check over the winter and save energy, be sure to pack some warm lounging clothes to wear while you’re hanging out at home. A comfortable hat will keep body heat from escaping through your head, and a pair of wool socks under warm slippers will keep your feet toasty. Consider a set of high-quality thermal underwear to put on under your sweats for extra warmth, and then keep the thermostat at 68 degrees. A down comforter will keep you extra warm at night, allowing you to turn the thermostat down to 62 while you sleep. These strategies can save you 40 percent in heating costs, and a lot of natural gas to boot.

Rugs & Window Treatments
Rather than purchasing rugs and window treatments derived from oil-based materials, consider sisal, wool or cotton for your rugs, cotton for your curtains and wood for your blinds. Rugs will help keep your space warm in the winter. Open your curtains or blinds during the day to allow the sun to heat your space, then close them at night to keep the warmth in.

Take Your Bike!
Even if you have a car, be sure to take your bike to college. Campuses are generally bike-friendly, and urban college neighborhoods are usually packed with stores, shops and services that you can often more easily bike to than drive to. You’ll not only save on gas, but you’ll also combat the classic Freshman 15, a common weight gain that is widely seen during the first year of college.

Power Saver Electrical Cords
Many electronics, such as your coffee pot, computer peripherals and game consoles, continue to use electricity after you turn them off. Take a power saver cord with you and plug in your computer peripherals, such as your printer, modem, scanner and monitor into one power strip and turn it off when you’re not using your computer. Not only will you save energy, you’ll also extend the lives of your accessories.

Author Bio:  George Dennis is president of King Shade and Window, a home improvement company that carries a range of custom roller shades.

Worried About College Admissions? Just Be Glad It’s Not Like This.

Monday, July 25th, 2011

As summer slips away, the specter of college applications and getting admitted to college is looming large in many a high school senior’s mind. After all, you’re putting your whole life out there for strangers to dissect. It’s enough to make anyone feel a little nervous!

But you know what they say…it’s better to laugh than cry.

At least that’s what the team behind this video from The Princeton Tiger—the nation’s second oldest college humor magazine—think. And we hope you’ll agree.

A few of our favorite quotes from this spoof of the college admissions process?

“I wasn’t sure about this kid until I read his 27th recommendation. His uncle’s middle school art teacher’s glowing recommendation of his community service really inspired me.”

“Let’s all read this one’s personal statement and laugh at it.”

“Listen, can you hear them cry? I like it when they cry.”

But don’t worry. The actual college admissions process is nothing like this! To see what it’s really like, watch this video from Butler University.

Want to be extra sure your application will stand out from the crowd? Subscribe to our blog and get tons of useful advice about applying to college and surviving the college admissions process!

Links To Learn By: The Best In College Prep For the Week of July 15, 2011.

Saturday, July 16th, 2011
summer reading for college prep

College news to supplement your beach reading.

While you’re enjoying your summer, we’re scouring the Internet for the college news you need to hear. Read on to see what college prep  news you should know about this week.

College and Social Media

LinkedIn, the social media platform that’s traditionally been all business, is reaching out to college students. Find out how.

Like it or not, Twitter is here to stay. Fortunately there’s a glossary to help you learn what you need to know to tweet. Check it out.

College Admissions

Do you feel prepared for college? One third of Alabama students may not be. Read all about it.

What can you do in your junior and senior year to make getting into college easier? Find out here.

Are you touring college campuses this summer? Here are seven apps to make it easier.

College Life and Beyond

Do you know what the most common college grade is? Find out here.

Worried about getting a job after graduation? Try one of these ten jobs.

Random College News

Have you ever wanted to go to wizardry school? Find out how much it would cost to go to Hogwarts.

And that’s the best in college prep this week. Got something to add? Tell us in the comments. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you can get the best college links every week!

5 Tips to Survive (and Thrive) Freshman Year

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Making the transition to college—well, it isn’t always easy. But, there are things that you can do to help ensure your college success. My College Guide has five tips to guide you as you begin your college career.

Don't let the work pile up--schedule in study time!

Don't let the work pile up--schedule in study time!

Ensure Your College Success

Network – College is a great time to network. It’s not only a good idea for what comes after college (you know, real life) but it’s doubly good in case you miss a class due to illness! If you can’t be in class, you will have someone else that you can call to find out what you missed—and to have a set of notes from the day’s lecture to copy!

Eat Well – Now more than ever your college cafeteria offers a ton of meal choice. Sure, you can eat French fries and a burger every single day—but don’t! The Freshman fifteen is avoidable but more than that, a healthy diet can keep you, well, healthy!

Get Involved – The wall flower will never have the college experience they had hoped! College is a time to try new things: Get involved in clubs and activities, don’t be afraid to chat up anyone who sits beside you in your college classes, and make your Freshman year everything you wanted. Bonus: If you miss class due to illness, you will have someone around to fill you in on what happened as well as give you notes to copy.

Know Your Professors – Your college professors aren’t just there to lecture, pass out assignments, and assign research papers. While it might seem scary, introduce yourself personally after class (maybe come up with a question about the course as an ice breaker). Knowing your college professor can be really helpful if you run into scheduling conflicts later. If you join the ranks of the majority of college freshman and end up changing your major, having a mentor in the field that you are interested in is invaluable!

Study Time – This might sound a little silly but you should think about scheduling yourself time to study! It’s very easy to fall into the “I’ll get to that later” routine and later never seems to happen. College isn’t like high school. You will have lots of reading and studying to do just about every night. Stay on top of it early to keep it down to a minimum because cramming for a test at the last minute? It just isn’t fun.

Next Year

Don’t stop there! Make a mental note to carry out our advice throughout your college career. Good study habits, networking with others, and having a back-up plan in case of illness is always a good idea, no matter what year in school you are!

Image Courtesy of Flickr, Opensourceway.

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores. Check out our participating colleges. Subscribe to our blog via RSS or email and stay on top of everything college!

5 More Movies About College Life

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Movies about college life? My College Guide has them! Or, rather, we’ve compiled another fantastic list of college-themed movies. Hey, after all the work you’ve been doing to get into college, sometimes it’s nice to remember why you’re going in the first place!

Movies about college life? Grab the popcorn!

Movies about college life? Grab the popcorn!

They may not all be true to life, but they sure are entertaining! Your college experience will be what you make of it. So, how do you plan to use the next four years?

Movies To Make You Cheer for The Underdog

Rudy – This one finds its home as a sports classic. Rudy, played by grown up Goonie Sean Astin, is the blue-collar student who can’t afford college (guess he didn’t read My College Guide’s advice on financial aid!) but receives a sports scholarship that lets him in.

Good Will Hunting – How do you like them apples? Matt Damon and Ben Affleck star in Good Will Hunting. Matt plays the part of the genius janitor and Ben? He works construction. We love this movie for the snappy one liners and loads of talent (Robin Williams won an award for his part in this one).

Good Fun

Drumline – We admit: it can be a bit predictable, but Drumline put the fun back in band! Watch it for the awesome competition performance scenes. Even in college it’s a good idea to get involved in extracurricular activities! Remember the OK Go video that used college band students? What you do in college, well, it sure looks great on that resume later!

Movies to Watch with Your Girlfriends

Mona Lisa Smile – Julia Roberts stars as an art teacher at Wellesley College who wants to challenge the way the young girls think. Know what? Women’s colleges are still doing that today! Although, unlike the movie, women’s colleges really aren’t stuffy or old-fashioned. Star-packed and great for girls night.

Legally Blonde – Put away your pink scented paper, grab your Chihuahua and some popcorn, and settle in for this comedy starring Reese Witherspoon. The plot? She heads to Harvard University to get back her ex—and learns a little more about herself in the process. Chick flicks at their finest!

You tell us! What are some of your favorite college-themed movies? Let us know in the comments below! We may just add it to part 3.

Image Courtesy of Flickr, Solo.

Who We Are: Information you can trust. For 20 years My College Guide has produced an annual magazine chock full of free college info for high-achieving high school sophomores. Check out our participating colleges. Subscribe to our blog via RSS or email and stay on top of everything college!