Parents: Finals Gifts for Your Student


candy.jpg photo by hercampusphoto

For most of us, December evokes ideas of family gatherings, hot chocolate, warm fireplaces, fun snowball fights . . . but, for college students, this time of year can be amongst the most stressful, thanks to the dreaded Finals Week.

During this time, the college students in your life will undoubtedly be pushed to their mental and emotional limits. They’ll be cramming for exams, writing papers, giving presentations, and much more! The entire semester has lead to this one critical week. As a student, they’re on their own for making sure they get good grades, often meaning that other priorities are pushed to the wayside. As a parent, you can help to relieve some of the stress they’re feeling. Sending little gifts, cards, and care packages can reduce some of the tension your college student is feeling during finals week. Aside from traditional college care packages, we take a look at some of these fun finals week gift ideas to lift your college student’s spirits when they need it most.


#1: Healthy Packages:

Students undergo a ton of stress during the end of the semester. Help cheer them up with a pick me up present during finals. Consider sending them things such some baked lentil chips or boxes of your students’ favorite peanuts to soothe their nerves. Alternatively, maybe create a fun “anxiety-relieving” bundle, with items like stress balls, decorative pillows to punch or  even a personal massage machine.

#2: “Punny” candy presents:

Sized_for_OCMPut a smile on your students face with a creative, or “punny” gift. Sending them candy with motivational sayings on them will elicit a chuckle while they study. You can send them Smarties candies to keep their hard working brains going; Kit Kat Bars when they need a break; or minty Tic Tacs when they need to take a “chill pill.” Or just satisfy their sugar cravings by sending an all candy basket and sweetening up their life!

#3: Coffee care packages:

During finals week, your student is going to need their energy to prepare for the end of semester rush. They’ll be staying up late studying and spending hours in the library working on papers. Help keep your student on track with a coffee care package. This can include ground coffee, a thermos and/or mug, flavored shots, a gift card and little snacks to accompany the beverage. Your student will appreciate your caffeinated surprise.

#4: Words of encouragement:

you-can-do-it-card-from-zazzle-com_1244618392547Sometimes you don’t need to send anything too extravagant to get your son or daughter through finals week. Maybe all your student needs is some helpful advice from their parents. Consider sending a motivational card that let’s them know that you are proud of them regardless, and that you’re sending them good vibes. College can be extremely supportive, so the reminder that they have people in their corner will be well received.

While finals week can be a rough and stressful time for college students, it does have great reward at the end. After all the papers are handed in, all the exams are completed, and all the presentations are given, your student gets to come back home to you and relax during their break. In the meantime, send your son or daughter some stress relieving help and some words of wisdom, and they’ll be just fine getting through their finals.

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How to Stay Connected with Your Child Over the Holidays


Being away from your new college student can be difficult to get used to. After all, going from having them around the house everyday to only seeing your child during breaks is a big adjustment to make for both parties. With the holidays quickly approaching, it will feel even harder to be apart from your son or daughter during this time. Thankfully, with today’s technology and opportunities, it’s easy to stay connected with your kids while they’re absent over the holidays.

While you might miss having your sons or daughters physically present during the family gatherings, you certainly don’t have to forgo seeing their faces during this sentimental time of year. To share the festivities together, set aside a time to Skype your student and show them the house. This way they can see the Christmas tree all lit up, the Thanksgiving decorations, or any other favorite holiday moments you are used to sharing together. You can even use a portable laptop or tablet and bring it to the dinner table while everyone is eating their holiday meal!

Care Packages
Show your student how much you are thinking of them by sending a holiday care package. Your son or daughter will be excited to get a useful gift from home at any time of the year, but more so around the holidays. Purchase one of our college care packages, offered with both desserts and healthy snacks to best address your kids’ specific preferences; we eve have baskets specifically for the holidays. If you don’t mind the extra legwork, you can make a care package of your own by filling an attractive with Christmas cookies, hot cocoa, scarves, blankets, or anything you think your student could use to get them through the holiday season. Consider sending them some of their favorite decorations from home to make their dorm room feel more like home for the holidays.

Presents   Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Establish Common Ground

Another way to stay connected with children over the holidays is to consistently establish common ground through culture. For example, do you both love a particular TV show? You two can both watch it in your respective homes, and then call one another during the commercial breaks to enthusiastically discuss the plot development. Similarly, perhaps your young scholar can recommend a book that the two of you can both read and routinely analyze together. Either option will create the feeling of embarking on a mini-adventure together, rather than apart.


If you can’t spend the actual holidays together, find a free weekend or day off during the week and make a trip out to see your student if he or she isn’t too far away. Spending time with your student during the holiday season, even if not on the actual holiday itself, will help you both get through the holidays apart. You can use this time to exchange presents, enjoy a nice holiday dinner, or go out and see some Christmas lights.

IMG_4898   Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Though nothing will ever replace the joy of spending the holidays with your son or daughter, you can still find ways to make the holidays special together. Just because your student is away, doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected. Use these ideas to spread holiday cheer with your college students and have a holly jolly season! How do you stay connected to your students during this time of year? Let us know!


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When Your College Student Needs Your Care Package the Most


It’s already a couple of months into the school year and your child is probably just about settled in their dorm, used to the day to day class schedule, and trying to get to know people. It can be a difficult process as a new student and even sometimes can continue to be, even if it isn’t their freshman year. Short of visiting, sending a college care package from OCM is one of the best things you can do to support your child while they are away.

When Midterms or Finals Hit

Whether it’s the middle of the semester or the end of it, your child is probably dealing with a lot of stress. They are studying day and night, finishing up long papers and projects and probably could use a little encouragement. Sending a finals week care package is the perfect way to show them you are thinking of them and know they are going to ace everything! Plus, a great care package will give them the snacks and things they need to get through long studying hours.

When They Are Feeling Homesick

Maybe the last time you spoke on the phone, your child sounded a little down. It can be hard to be away from home, especially if they never have before. When it seems they might be a little said from not being home, send them a care package with their favorite treats or with things that remind them of where they are from.

When they’ve Done Something Great

Did they just ace a class? Finish a major project? Get into an exclusive program? Whatever their achievements may be, getting recognized for it is even better. Send your scholar one of OCM’s gift baskets for college students to show them you are proud of them and to celebrate! It’s not something they’ll be expecting but it will definitely make them feel their efforts have been worth it.


For Their Birthday

Especially if their birthday is mid-semester and they won’t be home to celebrate, sending a birthday care package for college students will make them feel connected to their family. Sure, they might be heading out with their roommate and a couple of friends to do something special, but to come back to a package from mom & dad would just be icing on the cake!

Just Because

Sometimes, no reason is needed at all. A surprise care package for any occasion can mean the world to them, especially if it is for no reason than “just because.”

Do’s and Don’ts of College and University Campus Visits


So you’re visiting your first few colleges soon to find out where exactly you want to study. Visiting a campus is seriously exciting, but you need to make the most of it to really get a feel for the school and give it a fair chance. Here’s some Dos and Don’ts for your next college or campus visit.


Do Take Some Time to Break Away From the Tour Guide

Taking a guided tour is just that; you often line up with a group of families and then led around campus to various buildings. If you’re able to, definitely head over to see a dorm room or two (this will give you a leg up when doing dorm room shopping and picking out the right dorm bedding). Many campus tours are meant to give prospective students the overall feeling of the physical campus. But there’s so much more you are missing than just what is on the tour.

Take time to break away and explore a bit yourself. See the cafeteria, maybe even some professor offices, to see what the “behind the scenes” really looks like. It can give you a fuller view of the campus and how things work. However….

Don’t Do So During the Most Important Information Sessions

Make sure that when you do decide to break away from the pack, it is not during important information sessions, question and answer moments, or talks with professors. These are important to be present for, no matter what.


Do Ask Students Questions

Feel free to ask students what they think of the school, should you be passing by a few hanging out (of course, don’t stop the ones who look like they are rushing to class!). You’ll always get the real honest truth out of current students, especially those asked outside of the tour. Most will be just fine with answering a few questions as long as you’re not too intrusive.

Don’t Forget to Do Research

The key to getting the most out of the guides is to not ask obvious questions and don’t go into a school blind. You should already know how much tuition costs or have a ballpark idea; that’s an awkward question that seems to always get asked on tours and honestly, guides really hate having to answer it. In general, make sure you have an idea of what the college is known for, what the biggest majors are and if there are any essential dorm room supplies they suggest.

Do Bring Your Parents

It’s much better to go to these campuses with parents in tow instead of just a slew of friends. Though you can always feel free to make plans to meet up with them on the same weekend, of course! Your parents will want to see the places you are considering and where they may be sending one of our great college care packages. Moreover, your parents can give great insight that you might not be seeing yourself.


Don’t Let Parents Run Your Tour

On the flip side, don’t let mom and dad dictate every step you take while on campus. This is YOUR potential college, not theirs, and you should be allowed to make decisions as well.  Decide where you want to go and what you think is most important aspect to see for yourself. Just let mom and dad know what matters most to you before you go, so everyone can be on the same page.

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Which College Care Package Should You Send to Your Student?


As a parent with a child in college, you are always thinking about them and want to make college life as easy as possible, even if you are miles away. College care packages are the perfect way to show your love and give them something they can use and appreciate. But what kind of college care package is best to send to your student?

For The Student Missing Home

It happens, especially during the first or second semester of college. Your child might get a little homesick. And while coming home to visit during the holidays and breaks will help, sometimes they need a bit more support while they are still away. Surprising them with a care package is a great way to let them know you are proud of them and know they can get through it.

The Hang In There and Homesick Helper packages, along with other support themed care packages, are the best choice for letting them know you care and are there for them. It’s full of great snacks and treats to make them feel just a bit better about being away from home.


For the Over Achiever

Is your child always studying hard for exams, writing long papers and gaining a great GPA?  We have just the care package for them. The Study Buddy, Deans List or Exam Aid care packages are best to encourage them, especially during midterms and at the end of the semester (finals?!? Say it ain’t so!). Show them that you’re proud of the work they put in and what they’ve achieved. With a mix of sweets as well as energy efficient snacks, it will keep them going even in the during those late-night study sessions at the library or study lab!


For Their Birthday

It can be tough spending a birthday away from home, especially for the first time. But a special birthday care package delivered on that special day will let your student know you’re still celebrating them! There are a couple of different options, from more personal packages to Birthday Party and Birthday Bash boxes that contain fun hats and party gear so they can throw a little celebration with friends and classmates. Give your scholar and some friends a party in a box for his or her next birthday.


For the Health Conscientious

Does your student follow a specific dietary lifestyle, like veganism or vegetarianism? Maybe they need a gluten-free box or are allergic to nuts. You can choose from our multiple options of healthy care packages and gluten-free care packages. Support your child’s healthy lifestyle (and sanity) with one of OCM’s care packages today!


What and How to Pack for College Dorms


Packing for your first year at college may feel like a daunting task.  How could you possibly be expected to pack your whole life in just a few suitcases? Gathering your most needed possessions, buying new dorm room essentials, and then packing it all up – it can be a lot of work. However, you can ease the stress by having a clear, organized plan as to how the process will be executed. Being an efficient packer not only saves you time, money, and anxiety, but it will help make sure that your first year at college starts off on the right foot.  Here are some tips to help you become an expert packer just in time for your big move.


Make a list

Before you start gathering your possessions, you should begin with creating a master list of everything you plan on bringing with you.  Separate the list into categories (clothing, bathroom, etc.) and focus on each one at a time.  By having this clear blueprint of what you need to bring you will be able to add and check off items as you go.  Be sure to start your packing process at least a month before the move in date so that you are not scrambling and forgetting things.


Shop Smart and Don’t Overpack

While you may be used to having ample space in your bedroom growing up, you are going to have to get used to a new, smaller environment. It is crucial that you only bring the absolute must-have necessities to your new dorm since there is limited space to keep everything organized.  Not only will this help keep your room uncluttered, but the moving process will be much simpler with fewer items. For example, instead of buying blankets and towels and packing them, order your dorm bedding online from OCM! We’ll ship it straight to your campus so you won’t struggle to fit one more shirt into your car.


Coordinate with Roommate

To cut the fat of what you need to pack and bring, coordinate with your roommate to divvy up big-ticket items.  Find out who should bring the microwave, refrigerator, toaster, etc. to avoid bringing duplicates and having unnecessary items in your dorm.  The last thing you need is to pack and unpacking something that you are just going to return or send back with your parents.


Packing Clothes

Try to limit the amount of unneeded clothes to save room for other items.  Get an idea of when your first trip back home will be (Thanksgiving? Christmas?), and only pack clothes you know you will wear before that date.  This way you can swap out the clothes you are tired of or that are out of season next time you are home.


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Drop Your Debt in 5 Years!


Drop Your Debt



What student doesn’t worry about paying off their student loans? With tuition rates rising every year and the beginning of loan paybacks rapidly approaching (or even already here, for some of us), there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Whether you have federal loans, private loans or even any other kind of debt to be repaid, here are 3 ways from The Daily Positive that you can begin strong and challenge yourself.

1. Sacrifice is key! If you choose to live the way you have always lived, chances are that you will not be saving enough for normal cost of living expenses and loan payments. Little purchases gone unmonitored can really add up and take resources away from your repayment schedule. This is an intentional step that forces you to buckle down and will prove to be instrumental in keeping you focused.

2. Talk to your employer. Many employers will work with you if you explain to them that you would be willing to take a lower salary in exchange for help paying off your student loans through a compensation package. More and more companies who are looking for new hires straight out of school have loan assistance written into the initial compensation package. If they want your skills, talents, and education, most likely they are willing to provide you with education-related help.

3. Turn your love for something into a side business. Have a passion for interior design? Take a class on staging and make some side money staging homes for sale. Can you speak another language? See if a local school or a group in your community teaches English as a Second Language courses. Do you love making treasure out of trash? Pick up a DIY project from a local flea market or yard sale and breathe new life into it with new paint and funky designs to sell online. You never know how much revenue you could make on the side by simply turning a hobby into a job.

Don’t get so overwhelmed when looking at the big picture that you are idle in taking small steps towards freedom. Being diligent and aggressive in your approach will help you to stay focused on the end goal.

Check out The Daily Positive by Dale Partridge and read more about How To Pay Off Student Loans in 5 Years. Don’t forget to check out the awesome infographic he has as well!

Dorm Room Dreamin’ with OCM


Pinterest Sweeps

What college student doesn’t want to win $300 to On our budget, that’s like 85 Big Macs or 37 Chipotle Burritos. Don’t pass that up! A burrito a week for the whole school year? Where do I sign up? All you have to do is create a Pinterest board titled “OCM Dream Dorm” and pin 8 or more items that are found in your dream dorm. Make it all about your style and show us what you would love to have in your dorm room. If you get chosen as the winner, you’ll have the chance to make your dream a reality with anything your heart desires from! Make sure to hashtag #OCMDreamDorm on every item and you are entered to win! Don’t forget to include your name and email address in the description of your board so we can contact you if you are our winner! The sweepstakes runs from June 13th- July 11th so what are you waiting for? Check out for more information about the Official Rules.
What kind of fun things are found in your dream dorm room?

Making Your Summer Job Work For You


summer job picWhat happens when you can’t afford to take that unpaid internship and your summer job seems like the most random, thankless set of tasks you’ve ever done? Make your summer job work for you!

Once you figure out the qualities employers are looking for, you can discover how your summer job may actually be building you into a perfectly marketable employee! There is value beyond the skimpy paycheck. Communicate this to potential employers and you’ll elevate yourself out of that summer job and into that paid internship or position!

The first thing to do is get an idea of what employers are really looking for. The more specific to your ideal position you can get with employer desires, the better. There are a few ways you can do this.

  • Do some online research     linkedin     poynter     glassdoor    higheredjobs
  • Talk to upperclassmen/grads who work or intern
  • Speak with professionals in your field and your college administration about who they hire. Taking the time to ask shows great initiative and they will REMEMBER you.

Check out “The Top Ten Things Employers Look for in New College Graduates” on the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Website. A great list. (What they don’t include is that you probably need to know somebody too. Connections never hurt, and that’s why you shouldn’t be shy about reaching out early on to those in your field!)

Alas, you sigh and say, “How am I supposed to gain experience when I don’t have the valuable work experience they want? I work at a dairy farm but I want to be a [something other than a dairy farmer] !” Once you’re familiar with what employers want, the next piece is to realize  the value in your current experience. Employers don’t have time to look for it, you have to show them.

Regardless of the job, when discussing your work experience with a potential employer you have to show you had goals, took initiative to learn and grow and can now transfer your Top Ten Traits to their goals.


“Mr. Interviewer, I flipped burgers.”- Not impressed.   

“Mr. Interviewer, I exceeded my company quota of 800 burgers in a day and then took initiative to add to our blog in my free time.”  -Now you have the attention. And if Mr. Interviewer remembers you from last year when you asked him what employers look for? –He becomes Mr. Employer.

Here are some peers and professionals in the higher education field (big cheeses!) who’ve shared their WORST summer jobs. Believe it or not, some of these big cheeses were putting cheese on burgers when they were in your shoes too. And you know what? They learned. Find the value in your summer job.

Noah Fox, Director of Housing Operations: Tiffin University

“I would have to say one of the worst summer jobs I ever had was working on a duck farm (hatchery). As you can imagine, the work was very dirty. Cleaning out duck barns full of duck droppings was probably the worst part of the job.” “What did you learn?”

  • Learned value of hard work
  • Practiced effective time management
  • Built commonalities and fostered lasting professional relationships.

“These lessons I learned have helped me tremendously throughout my time in the workforce.”

Ty Krueger, SWACURH Regional NRHH Advisor

“I worked in the records/registrar’s office one summer and spent the entire summer taping documents to sheets of paper to be scanned.” “What did you learn?”

“The tape and paper has to be flat so it doesn’t jam the printer, hah!” “But seriously…”

“Even the most menial of tasks have a purpose and in the long run, helping someone is a valuable reward.”

Bill Pickett, Senior Director of Student Involvement: University of Nebraska, Omaha

“I worked at McDonald’s. I smelled like fries and nuggets every day. I opened for breakfast and then lunch, 5am-2pm in the summer! McInsane! I will tell you, I learned a lot.“What did you learn?”

  • I enhanced my ability to work with a team
  • Applied creative problem solving to meet company goals
  • Learned to work effectively under pressure
  • Honed customer service techniques and developed relationships with customers

“It was honestly like a housing job… you learn a variety of things that will help in any field from jobs you may not expect to learn from.”

There is a reason they call jobs “opportunities”. Any job, regardless of how many feathers, droppings, tape, or burgers are involved, is an opportunity to learn and grow. Take your Top Ten Traits with you to your next interview. When an interviewer sees the value in you, you will earn that paid internship or job and you’ll be prepared. By this time, you’re no stranger to hard work!

Share YOUR worst summer job and what you learned in the comment field below.


Our Campus Market’s $10,000 Tuition Sweepstakes!



Our Campus Market wants to help one student offset the cost of a quality education through a sweepstakes to award TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS towards their tuition balance! Want to alleviate some loans for this upcoming school year really easily? This is the way to do it! Enter Our Campus Market’s $10,000 Tuition Sweepstakes! Wanna know how you can enter to win? There are two ways to enter the contest: 1. Enter through Facebook on Our Campus Market’s page, or 2. make a purchase from the Residence Hall Linens catalog (online, by phone, or through mail). Each transaction is one entry, and each person is limited to 10 entries total. The contest runs from April 5th, 2014- August 15th, 2014.

Why wait any longer? $10,000 is waiting! Don’t forget to share the contest with your family and friends to give them a chance to win as well.

You must be a legal US Citizen, and have valid proof that you are currently enrolled in an accredited university and are planning on attending for the Fall 2014 semester to be eligible. Check out the Official Rules here: