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Create a College-Friendly Holiday Budget...and Stick to It!

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s that time of the year again where we see festive decorations, cheerful people...and empty wallets. The holiday season can definitely take a toll on our bank accounts – not only do you have to buy gifts but you have to get formal wear for fun holiday events! Can it be done on a college budget? Hard to believe but it can!

First, know where and when to shop. Stores will sometimes offer seemingly large discounts on Black Friday but drop prices even more as the holidays draw closer. How do you know which sales you will save the most on? Well take a look at retailers’ websites to determine the prices and sales they usually have. If you see the percentage of the sales on "special shopping days" are the same as their usual Saturday sales, it’s not a deal! I know what stores I need to go to by doing a little research ahead of time, targeting what items I want and finding additional discounts online and in catalogs: Last year, I found a $99 jacket on sale for $19!

Also, think about making gifts – it’s the thought that counts after all! This year, I’m on a tighter budget so I’m going to make customized stockings. People love gifts that are handmade over something store-bought that might be exchanged. You can even fill the stockings will homemade treats; there are so many recipes for easy-to-make desserts online!

Just remember that the holidays are not about how much you spend. Shop only for what you need and give the rest from the heart. Enjoy the season, amazing food and great friends without going broke!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Goodbye, Textbooks - Hello, Money!

The Best Places to Sell Back Your Books

December 23, 2011

Goodbye, Textbooks - Hello, Money!

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s the end of the semester again and I’m sure as many of you are packing to go home, you’re wondering what you’re going to do with all those textbooks. Although there are some books you may want to keep, you’re going to want to sell most of them back and there are several ways to go about recouping some of the money you invested.

Many campus bookstores will buy back the book for 40 to 50 percent of the price you paid for it – used or new. If the edition is being updated, however, you might want to consider selling it elsewhere because your return will be much lower.

Online book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble will buy textbooks back from you directly. Just recently, Amazon was offering $35 for a book I paid $45 for so I’d say it’s a very good deal. (They give you a free shipping label, too.) Amazon also lets you sell your books through their site to other students. The downside here is you will have to ship the book yourself, which will usually run more than the $3.99 fee Amazon charges, and Amazon takes 10 to 20 percent profit of what you make, including applicable tax and shipping fees.

You can list books on Craigslist or even around your campus. Put up a posting online or in your dorm and have students contact you if they need those textbooks.

There are ways to get money back for your textbooks but make sure to do it as soon as you can after the semester ends. You’ll get a better return this way – funds you can put toward next semester’s books!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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How to Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions

by Radha Jhatakia

It’s a new year and we are all making resolutions to be healthy, not procrastinate, to do better in school or even get more sleep...but after a month or two, no one pays attention to their resolutions anymore. To really stick with your resolutions, slow lifestyle changes are the way to go. This way, you’re able to fit the resolution into your existing schedule without a great deal of effort. Here are a couple of ways to I plan to make good on my resolutions.

I’d like to have a healthier lifestyle this year which means changing my diet and my exercise plan. I will start by evaluating items in my diet like junk foods; I won't eliminate them completely but I will begin incorporating healthier foods into my meals as sides. I’ll also start with 15 minutes of exercise per day and increase that time by five minutes every other week. This will help me get into a good routine without going overboard.

Moderation will also help me with another resolution of mine: to do better in school. For example, I hardly ever watch T.V. as it is but I will make sure that I tune in only when I’ve finished all my studying and assignments. Take that, procrastination!

Lastly, I plan to set more deadlines for myself this year. By better managing my schedule, I’ll be able to finish my schoolwork in an appropriate amount of time instead of waiting until the last minute to complete assignments. There are always unexpected circumstances popping up and my deadlines will allow time in my schedule to deal with them without sacrificing my studies.

Here’s to a new year filled with positive, continuous change and even some college funding: Be sure to share your resolution with Scholarships.com through the latest Short & Tweet Scholarship!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Making Thanksgiving Dinner in Your Dorm

by Radha Jhatakia

Not all college students are able to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. If this sounds like you, don’t worry: You can still get into the holiday spirit in your dorm. Many of you are probably wondering how to pull off a Thanksgiving feast when you don’t have a kitchen and/or cooking skills but here’s a little guide to help you:

  • You can find ready-made mashed potatoes in the refrigerated section of your grocery store or buy raw potatoes and cook them in the microwave (some even have a button for this). For gravy, buy a powdered packet and add the requirement of heated water. Voilà!
  • If you don’t want canned cranberry sauce, heat fresh cranberries in the microwave until the juices are released. Add sugar to taste and mix while slightly mashing them with a spoon.
  • Candied yams would be difficult to make from scratch in a dorm so buy canned pre-cut and peeled ones. Heat the yams in the microwave with butter then add some cinnamon and sugar (granulated white and brown). When the sugar melts, you’re done!
  • Boxed stuffing can taste just as good as the homemade kind. Get the Stove Top brand – all you need to do is mix it with hot water.
  • For the bird, most grocery stores have cooked rotisserie turkey and chicken. You can add your own seasoning or eat it as is.
  • Get a bottle of sparkling apple cider or grape juice for delicious mocktails.
  • Pick up a ready-made pecan or pumpkin pie from your grocery store for a treat...or maybe even some seasonal cupcakes.

Bon appétit, everyone!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Volunteering During the Holidays - Do It!

by Radha Jhatakia

The holiday season has arrived. We see decorations up everywhere and sales for the things we’ve coveted all year. We go to parties, have feasts of delicious holiday food and exchange gifts. It’s all very beautiful and spirited but there is a very realistic part of the holiday season that often gets overlooked.

When you pass by those beautiful decorations, how many of you notice there are people sitting on the sidewalk, not because they’re tired of shopping but because that is where they live? When you are at the register spending hundreds on gifts, how many think about those who barely have money to eat? I think ‘tis the season we college students start thinking of others!

With the current state of the economy, many people are unable to celebrate the holidays the way they would like so let’s spread our good fortune to those who don’t have as much. Most college students have an entire month off from school between semesters so do some good during that time! Here are a few ideas:

  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter. These organizations are often short staffed during the holidays because of the amount of people that go in so they will be grateful for any time you can spare.
  • Organize a food drive and then help deliver the goods. You can also look into working with a charity that distributes food baskets for those who aren’t homeless but can’t afford holiday meals.
  • Give a gift to someone less fortunate if you can. Community centers set up toy drives during the holidays and some schools even have “Letters to Santa” programs where needy students share their holiday wish lists.

Making someone’s holiday even a little bit happier is easier than you think. All it takes is a bit of time and effort to give someone else the joy you are blessed to have.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Dealing with Loss in College

January 31, 2012

Dealing with Loss in College

by Radha Jhatakia

I recently lost someone close to me and cannot describe how I felt. The worst part was that it was unexpected and I was nowhere near home. When we are in school, we miss out on things that happen at home and sometimes losing someone is one of these unpleasant things. Often, we cannot go home or it is too late by the time that we get there but for this, all I can say is that it may be better that you have been left with the beautiful memories that you have.

Some things mean more to others than we can comprehend. People, pets and places can all be something that a person values. Losing a family member, friend, pet or home is never easy but remember that you need to go through the natural grieving process or you will never be able to move on. Remember your someone, all the good they’ve done and all the moments you’ve spent together and celebrate their life and the positive way they made you feel. And don’t feel guilty for random moments of happiness: They’re completely natural and the person you lost would not want you to live in sadness.

Loss is one of the most unpleasant things in life and when you experience it, it will be with you forever. Remember that you can rely on friends and family for comfort – they’re grieving, too – and seek professional help if you need it. Know that it is okay to feel the way you do; let it make you a stronger person.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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The Pros and Cons of Graduating Early

by Radha Jhatakia

Much of the time, college students who are able to get the classes they need and have an education plan are able to graduate early. Graduating early can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it; it worked for my fellow virtual intern Jessica but how do you know if it's right for you? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. Do you have job offers lined up after graduation?

2. Did you go to college close to home?

  • If you said yes, then graduating early wouldn’t be a tough transition but if you attended college further away, graduating early may be more difficult. Many if not all of your friends were will still be in school and you’ll also miss out on the senior graduation programs.

3. Did you take out loans to pay for college?

After you answer these questions, you should be able to determine if you should graduate early or not. Just remember there are pros and cons to both and you should choose the path that’s right for you.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Respecting the Beliefs of Others

by Radha Jhatakia

No two people are alike and neither are their beliefs. People have similarities and differences, grow up in different environments and have diverse experiences which shape their beliefs; when we are in college, people with diverse beliefs are brought together and thus students must be tolerant and respectful of the beliefs of others. It is not right to ridicule the beliefs of others or to impress our own beliefs upon them.

In college, people will have many different issues they are passionate about and we will take classes with these students and interact with them on a daily basis throughout our time in school. People will practice and believe in whatever is best for them and no one has the right to dictate otherwise. We may not believe in another religion over our own but does that make someone else’s lesser? No, it does not and as citizens of a country where freedom is valued, people must respect that. People must be tolerant of is sexuality; homosexuality may not be your orientation but your beliefs should not cause others to suffer. Whether you believe the same or not isn't the issue and this mindset is especially useful when living on campus for the first time: Your roommate or neighbor could be 100-percent your opposite but respect for their beliefs and lifestyle will make for a more comfortable living arrangement and maybe even a lasting friendship.

In a time when the world is at odds and there are wars over petty issues, respecting beliefs of others is more important than ever. Can you imagine how many conflicts would end tomorrow if those fighting simply followed this advice? Argue for what you believe in – everyone is entitled to their own opinion – but just because you don’t believe something doesn’t mean you have the right to disrespect it. Be respectful of those around you and their beliefs – sometimes it’s all we have.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Get a (Residential) Life with NACURH!

by Radha Jhatakia

Do you think your residence hall life is a little dull and in need of help...or so great that other schools could benefit from your programs? Either way, I have the perfect opportunity for you to let your voice be heard and maybe do some traveling. Ever heard of NACURH?

NACURH stands for the National Association of College and University Residence Halls and they are having a conference soon. At these conferences, you gain ideas to host different programs at your college, meet students from a wide array of schools and learn many new things. I personally haven’t been to a NACURH conference yet but I attended a PACURH (Pacific Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls) conference at Washington State University in Pullman this past November and it was an amazing experience!

How do you get involved? I applied in September (the only requirement is that you live in university housing) and was selected as a delegate for San Jose State University. In the weeks leading up to the conference, we had many meetings to guide us through the tasks we had to accomplish and along with learning about new programs, delegates have to submit program ideas of their own – what a great way for you to share your ideas! Also, you have to show your school spirit so if you are proud of the college you attend, you can represent with school gear, chants and different competitions that will gain your delegation some points! The program I created for PACURH helped celebrate multiculturalism and was selected as a top 10 program – I was even able to present my program at the conference twice!

You won’t get many opportunities like this to make a difference and learn something new while having the time of your life! If you’re interested in NACURH or one of its affiliates, ask your residence hall government how you can get involved and start making a difference in residential life on your campus and beyond today!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Just the (FAFSA) Facts, Ma’am

Tips and Tricks for Filing This Oft-Dreaded Application

March 9, 2012

Just the (FAFSA) Facts, Ma’am

by Radha Jhatakia

For those of us who cannot afford large out-of-pocket expenses for college, financial aid is our only option. Many, if not all, universities require their students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – aka the FAFSA – which uses your family’s finances and taxes in order to best determine how much aid you get. It can be confusing but it is definitely worth your time to file the application.

Depending on the state of the school you attend and live in, the FAFSA has different deadlines. States offer different grants and scholarships as long as you qualify and apply by the stated deadline and private schools also have different deadlines for private funding which can be found on their websites. The dates for states can all be found on the print out form on the FAFSA’s website. Remember to use this official government website – other sites charge fees.

The FAFSA requires you to have a federal PIN number. To apply for one, request one from the FAFSA website. (Make sure to do this even if you don’t have your tax returns, as the PIN number sometimes takes some time to receive.) Also, a new procedure that the FAFSA has is the IRS data retrieval tool, which takes the tax information directly from the IRS database and filters it into the FAFSA. This option not only makes life easier for those filing the FAFSA but it helps college financial aid offices, as they won’t require you to turn in additional documents to verify if the information is correct.

Always try to have yours and your parents' tax returns completed as soon as possible to have your FAFSA completed on time; however, since required documents like W-2s and other federal papers often aren’t available when you need them, file the FAFSA and select the option “Will File” rather than “Already Completed” for the question asking if you have already filed the tax returns. Use the tax information from the previous year so that you can have it completed by the deadline and once your tax returns are complete, go back into the FAFSA and use the “Make Corrections” option to update the information.

Happy filing, everyone!

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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