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Surviving Cold and Flu Season at School

by Kayla Herrera

It's that wonderful time of year when colds and the flu grip us by the throat – figuratively and literally. For me, it began as allergies (probably a development due to my rabbit) and somehow, the allergies turned into a sinus infection, which then morphed into bronchitis. I woke up in the middle of every night wheezing and sneezing and while the rhyming doesn't even begin to make it sound better, I found a way to survive.

I had to visit the doctor at the Shopko clinic twice (doctors up here are either hard to get into or incompetent) and she recommended a humidifier (I’d never had one before) and some other products. Here’s the rest of my cold and flu season survival kit:

  • Vicks humidifier (it’s surprisingly inexpensive, I promise!)
  • AlkaSeltzer Allergy and Cough (their cold stuff is great) or Tylenol Cold (the blue liquid is a miracle worker for colds and the flu)
  • Lots of lotion-filled tissues
  • Cough drops that taste good and work (Halls clear the nasal passage while helping your throat but avoid Ricola...ugh)
  • Nasal strips for congestion like Breathe Right (watch out because they do leave a red bump on the nose if you wear them overnight but it can easily be covered with makeup)
  • Mint tea to help the nasal passages – make sure to breathe in the steam, too!
  • Vicks VapoRub (helps the wheezing, coughing and sometimes nasal congestion)

If you do go to the doctor, always check any prescription they give you. This past week, the doctor prescribed me a medication with the very item I was allergic to (despite me writing it down on my information sheet!) so when I took the pill and looked it up, I freaked out and marched back up there. Turns out she had realized her error and changed the prescription at the last minute before I had picked it up but it was still concerning. Be careful and get better!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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What to Do About a Negligent Landlord

by Kayla Herrera

I have tons of horror stories about roommates and housing but the one connective thread is an unprofessional landlord. While I can’t tell you why this problem is so prominent in many college towns, I can guide you on how to deal with it.

First, know your rights. Look up your state’s tenant laws and make note of them. In Michigan, a tenant has the right to withhold all or part of rent depending on the problem until the apartment is fixed. We’re not talking broken lights or chipped paint, though – think more along the lines of pests, unusable plumbing and no electricity.

Next, reread your lease. Whenever you sign a lease, make sure to 1. read it thoroughly and 1. get a copy. (My landlord didn’t even give me a copy of my lease and I had to email him several times to get it.) If the lease does not say anything about apartment fixes (it should), do not sign it until it’s amended. If the landlord complains, cite the tenant laws to support your case.

Lastly, be confident and remain firm in all dealings with your landlord, especially if the issue is detrimental to your health or living. For example, my neighbor has had bad plumbing since July but even after multiple complaints, the landlord hadn’t remedied the issue by October. She knew her rights, though, and together we sent the landlord an email stating she was moving out and he would be responsible for finding a replacement tenant...but not until the apartment was fixed. We also said if immediate action was not taken, we would call a health inspector (also due to persistent flying squirrel incidents in several apartments). Needless to say, the landlord agreed in a panic and we were able to avoid going to court over the matter – a mess we definitely didn’t need during midterm time.

If you follow these tips, even the worst landlord ever can be dealt with. Good luck, renters!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs and is a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Finding a Summer Job Late in the Game

by Kayla Herrera

Spring semester ends and summer rolls in with its blossoming heat and sunny days. Summer classes are starting up, birds are gathering in trees to sing their summery tunes and some students are starting their job search...late.

I tend to start looking for a summer job in the early spring in order to secure a position but if you have a particularly demanding spring semester class schedule, you’re not going to get this kind of head start. In an injured economy, it’s difficult to find a job, especially in smaller college towns that are not located near metropolitan areas. Many businesses are often family-owned – there are lots in my college town – which usually eliminates anyone outside of the family for employment.

The best thing to initiate late in the job hunt is to check with your school. Ask around to see if there are any openings for summer help. The admissions office is a good place to start but dining services is also a great hidden opportunity. With the lack of summer students, your school will probably be looking for help. I joined up with a catering service through my school where I work weddings and class reunions and – get this – set my own hours.

The most important advice about any type of job hunting is that you cannot be picky. I cannot stress this enough. If you've got rent and bills to pay, you've got to make money somehow. Apply everywhere – gas stations, gift shops, restaurants, department stores – and if you’ve still got nothing, fast-food might have to be an option. At least fill out an application; you can always decline the offer if you find something else. With today's economy, cash-strapped college students can’t afford to cherry pick. The race is on, time is ticking and money is waiting to be made.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Gaming on a College Budget

by Kayla Herrera

If you are a gamer in college like me, you know how difficult it is to choose between saving money for school and buying that video game that just came out. You know you have to pay for cable and electricity but that video game is so enticing! But trust me, my gaming friends: It’s possible to game successfully and pay the bills!

As you probably know, there are tons of free games online; naturally, some are low-quality but if you dig, you'll find pretty good free games. For a classic, try Tetris Friends; I have become addicted to this site – it’s a nice way to fill what little free time you may have.

If you are looking for something more adventurous, get Steam. Steam is an online gaming platform that I mentioned briefly in my piece about long-distance dating. It runs smoothly, has a large selection of free games and games for purchase, offers demos of new releases and stores your games for you on your computer. The negative part? It's almost too easy to purchase games. It's thrilling to find a game you've been dying to have, click a button and own it but this can be bad news if you’re trying to watch your spending.

There is always the opportunity to get an emulator, which acts as a console and allows you to play older games from Sega Genesis or Nintendo 64 on your computer for free. All you need to do is download the emulator and start searching for games – easy and entertaining.

College gamers don’t have to break the bank; you just have to know how to wiggle your way through the system. The best part is you'll still have enough for groceries!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Pet Ownership 101 for College Students

by Kayla Herrera

Students taking classes and living away from family and friends for the summer often yearn for a companion, a snuggler or just a pair of appreciative eyes. There is a solution – or at least a Band-Aid – to help heal the lonely hole in your heart: a pet!

Before deciding get a pet, check with your landlord. Even if your lease prohibits pets, it doesn't hurt to ask if your landlord will make an exception; my landlord’s biggest concern was cats scratching up the furniture so it’s possible yours may allow smaller animals. I decided to get a rabbit but before doing so, I read up on them and did my research to prepare, just like I would for a college exam.

So far, my rabbit has been extremely entertaining – almost as if I own a small dog: He lies out on the couch with me, watches television with me and follows me around the apartment. I even bought him a harness and leash so I can take him outside and am getting an old pet stroller to take him on walks. Pets can become the center of our worlds and my rabbit has definitely become the center of mine.

If loneliness is nipping at you this summer, think about getting a pet. Just make sure you have the money and time to devote to your pet once school starts up full-time again; if you have even slight concerns about your class schedule, work-study or social life will get in the way of properly caring for your pet, save the trip to the pet store or animal shelter for a later date.

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Quirky Course Offerings

June 17, 2011

Quirky Course Offerings

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Have you ever been sitting through a lecture and been on the verge of falling asleep? Do you find yourself wishing your classes were more interesting? If your answer is yes to either of these questions, grab your course catalog and discover your school’s quirky class offerings.

The Science of Harry Potter” is an honors course offered by Frostburg State University in Maryland. As the name suggests, it involves analyzing topics from J.K. Rowling's best-selling novels from a scientific perspective. For instance, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans help students understand how our taste buds function and flying broomsticks are viewed through the lens of anti-gravity research.

The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie” is offered at Occidental College in California. Its main topic of study is the concept of race and how Barbie has inadvertently encouraged societal racism; it also offers surprisingly deep insights on gender roles, capitalism and more.

Some people are skeptical about the usefulness of these classes, with the more extreme critics denouncing them as a waste of money. While they are unorthodox, keep in mind these classes still require a significant amount of work. Students taking “The Science of Harry Potter,” for example, must take daily quizzes, complete scientific projects and read textbooks. Speaking of books, “The Science of Harry Potter” only requires two textbooks but the reading list for “The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie” is surprisingly extensive and includes works by social class analysts Karl Marx and Walter Benjamin.

So, if you're tired of more traditional course offerings like physics or sociology, consider finding out if your college offers any unique classes like the ones mentioned above. Just don't expect to do less homework!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.

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The Benefits of Digital Textbooks

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Does your back ache from carrying heavy textbooks from class to class? Do you hate paying extra money for priority shipping to ensure you get your textbooks in time for the new semester? If you answered yes to either one of these questions, you may be interested to know many websites now offer textbooks digitally.

Sites like Chegg.com, Textbooks.com and Cengagebrain.com offer dozens of e-books to accommodate your e-reading needs. You don't need to go out and buy an e-reading device such as Amazon's Kindle or Sony's Reader (you can read e-books right on your computer screen) and you never have to worry about losing your e-books because if your computer or e-reader is misplaced or stolen, all you need to do is download the e-text again.

Even with all these benefits, I know some of you may still be reluctant to go digital because you think you won't be able to highlight pages or navigate a digital text easily. Well, put those fears to rest: Many e-books allow you to highlight specific words or phrases, make notes in the margins and even search the entire e-book for a specific word or phrase.

Finally, you can rent e-books just like you can rent traditional books. Normally when you rent textbooks, you have to worry about water damage, torn pages and shipping your books back on time but not so with e-books! When your rental period is up, the e-text simply expires with no fines for damages or shipping incurred. If after using all these features, you decide you still prefer having your text on paper after all, you can print out whichever pages you specify.

So consider going digital, if only just for one class. I guarantee you (and your back and your wallet) won't regret it!

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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Why Can’t High School Be More Like College?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

Did you ever wish you had more freedom to choose what classes you could take in high school? Students in Georgia share your pain and the Board of Education is considering implementing a plan which will allow students to take only the classes which are relevant to their future careers. Students will be required to take general courses before choosing their “career cluster” at the end of their sophomore year but depending on the “career cluster” they choose, some students may be able to get their dream jobs right out of high school!

While I know I would have liked more choices regarding the classes I took in high school, I'm still not sure I'm onboard with this idea. For one thing, not everyone knows what career they want when they're in high school – some students have trouble deciding what they want to do well into their college careers! – even me: When I was in high school, I was convinced I wanted to become a pharmacist before I realized my true calling as a writer.

The fact is that college is expensive and the idea of cutting down on the rising cost of college by taking some of the necessary courses in high school is very enticing indeed. Along those same lines, if this program is implemented and a student decides they don’t really like their course of study, they can switch between clusters until they find one that better suits their goals.

So, will Georgia become the first state to implement a more individualized high school experience? We'll have to wait and see next fall.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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To Charge or Not to Charge?

September 13, 2011

To Charge or Not to Charge?

by Lisa Lowdermilk

“Just charge it.”

I'm willing to bet that you’ve been in a store and heard that phrase. Even if you haven't, you’ve probably been bombarded with letters asking you if you'd like to lower your interest rates, encountered representatives hawking credit cards (and complimentary t-shirts!) on the quad or heard of people who have racked up thousands of dollars in debt from recklessly swiping their plastic.

While handling a credit card involves a lot of responsibility, the good news is that it comes with plenty of perks as well. Citibank, for example, offers a Visa card just for college students and has a system of reward points to boot. Depending on your GPA, you can earn anywhere from 250 to 2,000 ThankYou Points just for doing well in your classes. You also get points for making your payments on time, which is a great incentive not to skip payments or only pay the minimum and accrue unnecessary interest penalties. You even earn five times as many points at restaurants, bookstores and more. So, while textbooks aren't exactly cheap, just remember that you're being partially reimbursed every time you use your credit card to buy them.

In a larger sense, using a credit card responsibly also helps students to establishing a good credit score. The higher this number is, the better your chances are of being accepted for a loan on your dream car or house. Lenders will see that you are not a liability and will be more likely to provide you with the funds needed to reach your goals.

If you're still not sold on getting a credit card, that's okay. There's plenty of time to establish credit after college. For those of you considering a credit card, though, just remember to spend responsibly and make your payments as promptly as possible.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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The Best Educational Apps

September 6, 2011

The Best Educational Apps

by Lisa Lowdermilk

We've all seen the iPhone commercials and heard the now-common phrase “There's an app for that.” It’s true, though: There's even an application to help you study — dozens in fact! Here are a few that can make your life as a student easier:

Grades 2. If you're like me, you spend a fair amount of time wondering what you need to score on an upcoming test in order to maintain your A. This app lets you do just that. It even lets you determine your new GPA will be based on what grades you expect to earn in your current classes.

Dictionary.com Flashcards. This app is great for English and science classes where you have to learn a wide variety of complicated terms. It even has multiple choice quizzes where you have to pick the right definition from a list of options. Plus, it's great having a dictionary in your pocket for whenever you need to look up words instead of lugging one around on top of all your other school books.

Star and Planet Finder. Astronomy buffs will love this one because it makes finding stars, planets, constellations and satellites a snap. Equipped with compass and GPS, this app lets you know whether or not you can see Orion from your current location – perfect for astronomy classes which ask you to chart the position of the constellations.

While not every college student can afford an iPhone or similar app-friendly device, all these educational apps make it a very tempting purchase indeed. And let's face it: You can't really put a price on something that makes a less-than-favorite activity less painful.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a published poet, avid video gamer and artist. Her poems have appeared in Celebrate Young Poets: West (Fall 2006) edition and Widener University's The Blue Route. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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