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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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Intro to Paranormal Investigation

by Kayla Herrera

Here at Michigan Tech, ghost hunting and paranormal investigation have become hot trends. It may seem like a strange extracurricular activity at first but my school is located in the perfect place for it: Further north past the busiest towns on this side of the Upper Peninsula, old mining towns sit against the woods. What happened here so many years ago? Over the summer, my friend and I decided to find out. We did extensive research on the area and we finally obtained access into a building that was used as the old hospital. It was an experience neither of us will ever forget, partly because of our findings and partly because we went about our exploration in the right way.

There are rules when it comes to digging around a town’s history that must be followed. First, get permission. I know it may seem like a person would never let you tromp around in a historical location but trust me: It’s much more respectful to get permission rather than trespassing and going home in a cop car. If you have a legitimate reason for your exploration – like photography or paranormal investigation, the latter of which we cited as our objective – the chances of receiving permission are pretty good.

Next, be safe. Wear proper clothing like sneakers, long sleeves and pants – no heels or skirts, girls! Also, don’t conduct your investigation in a big group. It’s noisy and disrespectful to the property owners, surrounding neighbors and those who have passed on or were buried on the site.

Lastly, enjoy the experience! The findings from our investigation were staggering: I was touched twice by a “spirit” – it felt like cold spider webs the first time and like someone covered in spider webs brushed past me in a hurry the second time – and we recorded a few EVPs (disembodied voices). All the eresearch and planning paid off and it will change the way I view the paranormal forever. If you’re interested in giving it a try, see if your school has a paranormal club. Who knows, you might even get course credit for participating!

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., 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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Moving in the Middle of the Semester

by Kayla Herrera

Whether the rent is too high, the landlord is negligent or there is an army of flying squirrels gnawing away at your apartment, your housing situation may need to change. This usually happens at a most inopportune time, like in the middle of the semester; it’s is a stressful, horrible and distracting experience but if your current place is bad enough (remember my last post?), the move will benefit you in the end.

Packing is a nightmare – not only is your place going to look like a tornado ripped through but if you do not keep your school stuff together, it will get lost in the mess – but you can maintain some sense of order. Keep a designated space for school work, books and any other college necessities or put everything in a labeled box so you will know exactly where to search when you need something for school.

As with your school supplies, separate your items into well-marked boxes to make unpacking easier and then begin transporting the boxes. Try to schedule moving day for a weekend or day you do not have class or work; unfortunately, I only had one day and had to skip all of my classes to get the job done but I did let my professors know ahead of time. When you arrive at your new place, make sure everything appears as promised in your lease before you start unpacking.

Moving in the middle of the semester is awful, I know. Things will get crazy, messy and even unmanageable but the best thing you can do is to stay organized. The hustle and bustle of a move has been known throw wrenches in otherwise perfectly timed schedules so use a planner or cell phone calendar to remember important dates and appointments while you are relocating. Good luck and enjoy your new abode!

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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When and How to Start Preparing for Grad School

by Kayla Herrera

I have been looking at graduate schools for a while now to better prepare myself for a career in my profession of choice. If you are interested in graduate school as well, you probably had the same question I once did: When and how do I start preparing?

We recently had a graduate school seminar here at Michigan Tech that talked about when to start applying, what to expect, taking the GRE, etc. Here are the points I found most important for one’s journey to graduate school:

If you want more information on graduate school, my school has the seminar online for viewing and other resources used in the seminar can be found here. Do your research , stay organized and your acceptance letter will follow!

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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Should You Take a Semester Off?

by Kayla Herrera

I have been attending college for about four years now and have never taken a semester off. The thought used to make me shudder – how could someone even think of taking time off from school?! – but after this semester, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

Some of my friends took semesters off to travel and learn more about themselves, while others were lost and not sure what they wanted to do in life. Some have experienced the loss of a family member or friend and others fell so ill that it interfered with their everyday lives. But me? My situation has been a combination of flying squirrels, bad landlords, health issues and money problems. Stress from school has skyrocketed to its worst level ever and I am planning to take the summer off, since I cannot afford to withdraw from spring classes if I want to stay on track. (I did consider attending part-time but found it could create problems with financial aid.)

If you’re considering taking a semester off, do NOT just drop off the face of the Earth. Let your adviser know your plans and keep the lines of communication open so that the process of coming back to school is easier when you are ready to do so. You may be taking time off from school to destress but I’d also recommend doing something related to your major – picking up an internship/job, volunteering or studying for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT or GRE – to stay somewhat involved in your field.

Lots of college students take time off for one reason or another; if external factors are competing with school to the point where your grades are suffering, take a break – you’ll return to school more motivated to succeed.

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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Fun Activities for Winter Break

by Kayla Herrera

Once that last Scantron sheet is bubbled and that last paper is submitted, the freedom of winter break beckons us happily. Suddenly, the stress is gone and we have all the time in the world (aside from work and family obligations) so what kinds of fun things can you do during hours you’d otherwise be studying?

I made a promise to myself to read all of winter break and I’ve found Amazon’s Kindle app to be a fantastic way to do so. It works on your smartphone, iPad, iPod or computer – I had to get it for my netbook for school – and have access to countless free or 99-cent Kindle books! I want to recommend Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter. If you have ever seen the show on SyFy, it is worth checking out. For those who haven’t, author Josh Gates is witty, sarcastic and adventurous – a modern Indiana Jones! All of the paranormal shows are coming out with their own books and though I have yet to check out Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures, this one just drew me in.

If you are into video games, you cannot go wrong with Skyrim. Hundreds of hours can be poured into this game, where you create a character to battle dragons and complete quests in an entirely different world. This is one sure way to survive your winter break...if you can defeat the dragons, of course.

And finally, The Adventures of Tintin looks like an incredible movie for all ages. The story is courageous, mysterious and unexpected – out of all the movies coming out over break (yes, even including Spielberg’s other film, War Horse), I would say this looks like the most thrilling and worth my 10 dollars.

Whatever you choose to do, may your winter break be as adventurous as you can make it!

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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Apartment Hunting? Follow These Rules

by Kayla Herrera

The start of a new year marks the time to seek an apartment for the fall semester. I know that’s the case at my school: Once the calendar turns to January in Houghton, Mich., students start climbing all over housing advertisements and residences are gone in no time. It really is a race here because in this rural town, affordable quality housing is limited. No matter where you attend college, there are some key things you should keep an eye out for when you tour a place you could potentially call home.

Noise. Ask about street noise or neighbor noise then take a listen for yourself to determine whether it’s too loud or too quiet for you. I lived on a main street once and when I moved to a quieter one, I could not sleep for a week because of the silence!

Mold or water damage. If there is a basement, look/smell for mold and search for wet spots or signs of flooding. Mold can bother allergies or make you sick and flooding could ruin your belongings; basements are prime locations for both to occur.

Pests. Keep your eyes peeled for chewed corners or holes in ceilings or walls. As I noted in a previous post, pests such as mice and squirrels can poop all over the place, eat your food, damage your apartment's structure and scare the daylights out of you. Do not move into a place with these warning signs unless the landlord promises to make repairs before you move in.

Maintenance. Make sure your landlord has a maintenance man or has offered you a phone number to reach him or her in case they handle the repairs. Trust me, no hot water plus hair covered in conditioner at 11 p.m. equals a not-so-fun extracurricular activity.

Be wary of everything from cleanliness to the neighborhood (nearby bars and hot spots mean there WILL be drunken singing at 2 a.m.). The race is on – good luck!

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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Handling Pests in Off-Campus Housing

by Kayla Herrera

When the campus dormitories have run their course and you are ready to have a room bigger than a closet, living in off-campus housing can be an exciting experience. Be forewarned, however, that you may have to deal with pests. No, I’m not talking about rude, unkempt roommates but insects, rodents and other undomesticated animals.

As a college student, you may have never dealt with a pest on your own before. I sure hadn't...until recently. During finals week, I heard scratching in my ceiling. I ignored it but after returning from a week-long trip, the source of the scratching revealed itself. I screamed, “it” crawled into the ceiling and I covered the holes with duct tape, still not knowing what the creature was. I called my landlord but he was out of town and said he'd take care of it on Monday. That weekend, a friend and I heard the scratching again, this time from the kitchen. “There it is!” screamed my friend as I tried to chase “it” out the door. “It” jumped behind the couch then flew back into the kitchen (I had no idea that “it” could fly!). My friend held a pot so we could capture “it” but when “it” ran toward her, she panicked and dropped the pot on top of the creature, paralyzing it. “It” – what we later found out was a flying squirrel – died soon after.

So off-campus dwellers, if you hear animal noises or have a large amount of insects inside your rental unit, call your landlord immediately. It’s their responsibility to get rid of the problem for you and if he or she doesn't or refuses to help, he or she is breaking the law.

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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Long-Distance Relationships in College

How to Make Them Work Over Summer Break

May 18, 2011

Long-Distance Relationships in College

by Kayla Herrera

So you met during orientation the first week of college and you two really hit it off. Fall semester flies by and the snow comes in heavy waves. Spring semester comes in like a lion and, as the leaves show themselves on the trees after a long winter's nap, you realize you are happier than ever. Now summer is here, you are staying at school to take classes and he/she is going home. What now?

This summer is the first real summer my boyfriend and I would've spent apart in different places so I've developed some tips for others in the same situation on how to deal:

  • Texting is okay – an “I love you!” on your phone when you are least expecting it is always nice – but don't overdo it with long conversations via texting. If it's important, make a phone call.
  • Give those thumbs a rest and call each other...but not every night. It will get boring and if a call is missed, someone will get mad, a fight will ensue and no one will be very happy at all.
  • Mix it up a little and use Skype – it’s nice to see a face every once in a while! My boyfriend and I set up Skype dates and we watch TV together like we used to.
  • For gaming couples, add each other as friends on Steam (an online game platform), set up times to play games together and chat while doing so.

You may miss your significant other but stay busy! Intern, volunteer, hang out with friends, spend time with your parents, study hard, whatever...it’ll make for a more productive summer and you won't be constantly checking your phone. Plus, fall semester will be here before you know it!

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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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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